Bus Éireann: Unite says Shane Ross ‘must act’ to avert all-out strike

Unions call on Minister to broker resolution, refuse Tuesday meeting with management

 Minister forTransport Shane Ross: must “kickstart a resolution process”. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Minister forTransport Shane Ross: must “kickstart a resolution process”. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The crisis at Bus Éireann will turn into a full-blown, all-out strike across public transport in the State unless the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross joins efforts to find a resolution, the Unite trade union has warned.

In a letter sent at the weekend, Unite said Mr Ross “must act now and meet all stakeholders together in one room to kickstart a resolution process”.

The Minister has consistently argued that finding a resolution to the problem of unsustainable losses at Bus Éireann is a matter for management and trade unions.

In the letter, the union’s regional officer Willie Quigley said Unite had consistently asked that Mr Ross meet all the stakeholders and ensure the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority were involved in discussions to “bring a satisfactory resolution to this unholy mess, that has not in any way been created by the employees”.

Staff sacrifices

“Indeed the opposite is the case, as these members for years now have gone without pay increases and have, through the cost recovery plan of 2013, contributed more than their fair share in keeping Bus Éireann afloat,” he continued.

Unite, which represents represents craft workers in Bus Éireann, told the Minister and the acting chief executive of the State-owned bus company Ray Hernan that it would not be meeting management until highly controversial cost saving proposals tabled last week were withdrawn.

These proposals included redundancies, cuts to premium payments and overtime rates as well as outsourcing. Unions have maintained that under the management proposals staff could lose up to 30 per cent of existing earnings.

‘Leaks and threats’

Mr Quigley said: “Unite is always willing to engage within a proper industrial relations procedure to ensure our members’ terms and conditions are protected and to negotiate resolutions that safeguard continued employment.

“Unfortunately, during the past week and a half the company has driven a coach and four through established procedures, and instead has chosen to negotiate through leaks and threats.”

Bus Éireann had sought to convene talks with trade unions on Tuesday. However at this stage it seems none of the unions representing the 2,600 staff at the company will attend the proposed meeting. Instead the unions will be meeting on Thursday to discuss their own strategy.