Driving Dublin bus ‘more demanding’ than operating Luas

Union says driving bus in ‘concrete jungle’ is ‘onerous’ and will bring findings to pay talks

The review said bus drivers were expected to interact well with customers and understand customer needs and to deal appropriately with anti-social or disruptive behaviour by passengers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The review said bus drivers were expected to interact well with customers and understand customer needs and to deal appropriately with anti-social or disruptive behaviour by passengers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Operating a bus in Dublin is more demanding than driving a Luas tram, a new job evaluation review has found.

Unions representing staff in Dublin Bus are expected to use the findings to press their case in fresh pay talks with the company in the weeks ahead.

In his review, former chairman of the Labour Court Kevin Duffy said he had come to an overall conclusion that “the role of a bus driver can properly be classified as being of greater value than that of a light-rail tram driver”.

He found bus drivers were required to exercise a higher level of driving skill than that required for tram driving. This was indicated by the requirement that they hold a category D driving licence (for buses) and a certificate of professional competency (CPC).

The review also maintained the range and nature of responsibilities of a bus driver were greater than those of a tram driver. The mental requirements inherent in the role of a bus driver were also greater.

“Bus drivers are responsible for ensuring that each passenger entering the bus pays the correct fare or are otherwise entitled to travel on the bus. In the case of travel passes, they are also responsible for ensuring the validity of the pass in respect to the passenger presenting it. Apart from the revenue-protection functions involved, this requires a degree of direct face-to face interaction with passengers. No corresponding responsibility rests with a tram driver.”

Bus passengers

The review said bus drivers were also expected to interact well with customers and understand customer needs and to deal appropriately with anti-social or disruptive behaviour by passengers.

However, the review also found a higher minimum educational requirement applied to tram drivers than bus drivers.

Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), said on Sunday that it along with Siptu would “bring this fundamental and profound report” to the negotiating table in the forthcoming pay talks with Dublin Bus.

“The NBRU has always held the view that the task of driving a bus around what is effectively a concrete jungle is far more onerous than is being given credit for. The timing of the report is significant, given that the NBRU did, as part of our original pay claim in February 2016, seek to have pay parity with tram drivers, inclusive of having all bus drivers’ pay treated for pension purposes.

“We will now use this report to ensure that drivers are treated on an equitable basis when it comes to payment for the job they perform.”

Employment packages

As part of a deal reached at the Workplace Relations Commission it was agreed between unions and management that a review to be chaired by an independent expert would be carried out to compare the Dublin Bus drivers’ role with that of Luas drivers.

Mr Duffy said there were differences to the various components of the overall employment packages available to bus and tram drivers.

“The totality of the pay package available to tram drivers is higher than that available to bus drivers, particularly in the case of those with long service. This is primarily accounted for by the availability of a 6.5 per cent bonus payable to tram drivers and a longer incremental scale, including a long service increment.”

It said pensions available to bus drivers were “materially superior to the defined-contribution scheme applicable to tram drivers”.

“Welfare benefits available to bus drivers are also more advantageous than those available to tram drivers. This is particularly so having regard to the availability to the former group of a free GP service for the employee, his or her spouse or partner and dependent children.”