Dublin Bus and rail workers to ballot on industrial action

Bus Éireann board unable to sign off on accounts or agree budget for 2017

Bus Éireann said  it was gravely concerned that losses continued to accelerate, and that the company’s financial troubles were being exacerbated by the strike. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Bus Éireann said it was gravely concerned that losses continued to accelerate, and that the company’s financial troubles were being exacerbated by the strike. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Industrial unrest in the transport sector could extend to Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann, with Siptu set to ballot members working at the companies for action in support of striking Bus Éireann staff.

The move by the union, which came four days into the Bus Éireann strike, would see members balloted from next week but, if approved, is unlikely to take effect until the end of next month.

Siptu organiser Willie Noone said members in Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann “believe that they are next in the firing line if management in Bus Éireann is allowed to force through cuts to wages and changes to conditions of employment of their staff ”.

The ballot would take a couple of weeks to complete, and the union would then have to give a further week’s notice before any action could take place.

About 2,600 staff in Bus Éireann have been on strike since last Friday over plans by management at the State-owned company to introduce cost-saving efficiency measures and work-practice changes without agreement.

There are fears that workers in Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann – which along with Bus Éireann form the CIÉ transport group – may stop working for a period on Wednesday to participate in a protest at Leinster House.

Gravely concerned

The board said it was gravely concerned that losses continued to accelerate, and that the company’s financial troubles were being exacerbated by the strike.

A survival plan presented by management to the board on Monday envisaged about 300 job losses under a voluntary redundancy scheme. However, the company said without an agreement on work-practice reforms to generate savings it would not be possible to fund such a voluntary severance scheme.

“Faced with that scenario, the board of directors will have no option but to consider other measures to prevent the business becoming insolvent.”

The National Bus and Rail Union said the company statement indicated that it may seek to enforce compulsory redundancies. It said if compulsory lay-offs were imposed, the existing dispute could become uncontrollable and spread to the other CIÉ companies.

Company sources insisted compulsory redundancies were not on the agenda but that further route closures could be considered.

The sources also played down any immediate prospect of Bus Éireann going into examinership.