Bus strike: Unions accuse Government of privatisation agenda

Labour Court asked to consider why offer of €18m in savings has not ended €9m dispute

A timeline to the Bus Éireann dispute, which centres around a €30 million cost saving package proposed by management


Labour Court talks between unions and management at Bus Éireann aimed at resolving an all-out strike which has left staff without pay for 18 days and disrupted 110,000 passengers daily were adjourned on Tuesday evening.

The hearing began at 3pm and lasted for two-and-a-half hours before being adjourned until 10.30am on Wednesday.

The Labour Court heard arguments from all sides to the dispute and could issuing a recommendation aimed at resolving as early as Wednesday morning .

Speaking on his way into the Court, National Bus and Railworkers’ Union (NBRU) general secretary Dermot O’Leary said any recommendations would have to be accepted by all sides, including members of five separate unions at Bus Éireann.

The dispute centres on a proposed survival plan for the financially troubled company which involves significant cuts to workers’ pay and conditions.

Siptu’s Greg Ennis said the union would tell the court its members had agreed to deliver €18 million in savings at the company, which is double the €9 million the company said was going to be lost in its Expressway division.

Mr Ennis said “somebody has to ask the question if the trade unions can deliver €18 million in efficiencies and staff reductions, how is that not going to solve the €9 million crisis at Bus Éireann”.

Talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) broke down early on Tuesday without agreement, with unions referring a number of issues to the Labour Court.

After the WRC talks broke down, a statement from Bus Éireann said the company had sought an early hearing at the Labour Court given the urgency of the financial situation.

“While progress was made and agreement was reached to eliminate many work practice inefficiencies, an offer made by the company that would help to deliver financial viability was rejected by the trade unions representing the driver grade,” the statement said.

“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused as a result of the ongoing industrial action.”