CIÉ to support Bus Éireann financially in some circumstances

Talks on survival plan for State company begin at Workplace Relations Commission

New talks between Bus Éireann and trade unions on a survival plan for the State-owned transport company have commenced at the Workplace Relations Commission. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

New talks between Bus Éireann and trade unions on a survival plan for the State-owned transport company have commenced at the Workplace Relations Commission. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The CIÉ Group has confirmed it is prepared in certain circumstances to provide financial support to assist Bus Éireann in dealing with its financial problems.

Details of the move emerged as new talks between Bus Éireann and trade unions on a survival plan for the State-owned transport company commenced at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Last Friday, the company withdrew plans to unilaterally impose new efficiency measures and changes to work practices while unions simultaneously deferred an all-out strike which was scheduled to get under way on Monday.

In what appeared to be a shift in thinking, a leaked management email on Friday indicated if a viable plan for tackling insolvency and competitiveness issues was agreed, Bus Éireann could expect to be given financial support in the short term.

The Irish Times reported on Saturday that it was envisaged that this financial support would come from the CIÉ Group,which is effectively the parent company of Bus Éireann.

In a statement on Monday, the CIÉ holding company said: “The CIÉ board - subject to the existing and future CIÉ Group financial position and banking facilities, the regulatory environment and significant savings being generated by Bus Éireann - would consider any Bus Éireann business plan which secures the long-term viability of the company and envisages a financial role for the CIÉ holding company.”

‘Slow and tedious’

Meanwhile, some union sources described the talks with Bus Éireann management at the Workplace Relations Commission on Monday as “slow and tedious” and that it could take a number of days for specific proposals for individual grades of staff to emerge.

Siptu said its representatives had placed the safeguarding of decent full-time jobs, the protection of routes serving rural communities and the preservation of local bus garages to the fore at talks.

The National Bus and Rail Union has proposed a four-point plan including the introduction of a sectoral employment order to protect the terms and conditions of bus workers as well as opposition to any cuts in rural services.

It also seeks a review of State subsidies, legislation and Government policy in the bus transport area and increased funding for the operation of the free travel scheme.

Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said: “Part of the solution to the crisis in public transport was the establishment of a sectoral employment order for bus workers and increased travel pass scheme funding.

“For the last two years, Siptu representatives have been working towards the creation of a sectoral employment order for the bus sector. Such an order would protect bus drivers’ terms and conditions in both the public and private sectors.

“It has been the long-standing position of Siptu that such an order is essential in order to end the race to the bottom in the sector - which is not only pushing drivers and their families into hardship but will also begin to have an adverse impact on the safety of the travelling public.”

Mr Noone said if an increase in the free travel scheme funding adequately reflected the public service provided by Bus Éireann to vulnerable sectors of society who ere covered by the scheme, it would “go a long way in solving the immediate funding issues that the company faces”.