Bus Éireann to implement cost-saving measures

State-owned transport firm’s move is likely to increase the prospect of strikes by staff

Unions at Bus Éireann have warned of an all-out indefinite strike in the event of the company unilaterally imposing cuts. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Unions at Bus Éireann have warned of an all-out indefinite strike in the event of the company unilaterally imposing cuts. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Management at Bus Éireann will tell staff in the next few days it plans to implement highly-controversial cost-saving measures unilaterally.

The move is likely to increase the prospect of strikes at the State-owned transport company.

There are no talks scheduled directly between management and trade unions or involving the Workplace Relations Commission.

It is understood the company plans to write to its 2,600 staff in the next day or so setting out its financial position and signalling that it plans to implement efficiency measures and changes in work practices.

Two previous rounds of talks on a survival plan for the company in recent weeks have ended without agreement.

Bus Éireann said on Monday it was still forecasting that its business would be insolvent by the middle of the year.

It said the scale of losses, which it had incurred in the first two months of the year, was 41 per cent ahead of the same period in 2016.

The company has said it lost €1.5 million in January but has not published any figures for February.

Insolvent

Bus Éireann recorded losses of more than €9 million in 2016. “The company is still forecasting that the business will be insolvent by mid-year 2017,” it said in a statement in response to queries from The Irish Times.

“This remains a very serious concern for the management and board of Bus Éireann.

“The company sees it as critical that cost-saving initiatives are implemented, without further delay.”

Unions representing staff at the company have warned of an all-out indefinite strike in the event of the company unilaterally imposing cuts to their members’ terms and conditions.

Unions have warned strikes could spread to other parts of the State-owned public transport system such as Dublin Bus or Iarnród Éireann.

The company has been looking at about 55 separate efficiency measures and changes to work practices.

Reducing overtime

Last week, Bus Éireann proposed reducing overtime for its drivers by an average of three hours a week to generate savings of €5 million a year, in a bid to secure its survival.

The company said in a letter to trade unions that if they were willing to accept savings of such magnitude were achievable, then it was prepared to make commitments about drivers’ terms and conditions and to re-engage in negotiations through the Workplace Relations Commission.

The company has also said it will reduce the headcount on the management grade proportionate to other grades and an equitable contribution from management in terms of take-home pay will be expected.