Full Dublin Bus service from tomorrow as talks agreed

Siptu halts strike action after Labour Court invitation to help resolve dispute


MARTIN WALL, Industry Correspondent

The Labour Court has issued an invitation to unions and management at Dublin Bus to new talks aimed at resolving the strike at the company.

Trade union Siptu said it would end its industrial action if management confirmed it would withdraw the implementation of a controversial cost-cutting plan.

Siptu and Dublin Bus both welcomed the invitation to talks issued this evening by the chairman of the Labour Court.

Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said: “We welcome the intervention of the Labour Court as this dispute will only be resolved through negotiation and discussion.

“Our members will cease strike action on confirmation from Dublin Bus that it will withdraw its currently unacceptable cost cutting measures while talks take place. The sooner we get this confirmation the sooner our members will return to work and the Dublin Bus fleet can be put back into service.”

Dublin Bus said that as requested by the Labour Court, it would suspend the implementation of a previous Labour Court Recommendation to enable these talks to proceed.

“The company will work this evening to ensure that buses are ready to enter service from first bus tomorrow,” the company said in a statement.

“Dublin Bus wishes to advise customers that a full bus service will operate across Dublin city tomorrow.”

It apologised to customers for the “inconvenience and disruption caused over the past number of days”.

Dublin Bus tweet

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and junior minister Alan Kelly both welcomed the development.

In a statement, the Ministers said: “We welcome this intervention and hope that the talks will lead to an agreement in the coming days that will ensure the long-term financial stability of Dublin Bus, the public transport services that Dublin Bus provide and the jobs of workers.”

Mr Varadkar earlier expressed hope that informal contacts among unions and management at Dublin Bus with the Labour Relations Commission would lead to a resolution of the industrial dispute at the company.

Hundreds of thousands of Dublin Bus passengers were left without services today as a general strike at the company entered its third day.

There are about 400,000 journeys made on Dublin Bus services on a working day. The strike will have its greatest impact today as Dubliners return to work after the bank holiday.

Businesses say the loss of productivity because of the strike could amount to €4 million a day. According to the Small Firms Association, “if employees in Dublin lost just 30 minutes today the result is 53,431 days lost, a lost productivity cost of just over €4 million”.

Leo Varadkar said this afternoon he was hopeful the dispute could be resolved quickly if the two sides commit to “short and sharp talks” that will lead to a solution. “What we can’t get into is weeks and weeks of talks that have no outcome,” he told RTÉ’s New at One.

Mr Varadkar added that management and the unions won’t enter talks until the Labour Court and the Labour Relations Commission decide they share enough common ground to strike a deal.

Earlier, Minister of State at the Department of Transport Alan Kelly said the issues between workers and management at Dublin Bus were “not insurmountable” and “can be solved”.

In a statement this morning he said 400,000 commuters were being denied a transport and the company was losing €600,000 a day and called on both sides to engage.

The dispute is over unilateral implementation by management of Labour Court recommendations aimed at generating savings of €11.7 million.

A spokeswoman for Dublin Bus told RTE’s Morning Ireland programme the company was anxious to engage in constructive talks, but added that any such talks had to be on the basis of securing the required savings.

On the same programme NBRU assistant general secretary Dermot O’Leary said his union’s responsibility was to its members.

Asked if he was concerned about public opinion towards the strike as more people are affected due to the end of the bank holiday, Mr O’Leary said the company had a responsibility as it was trying to change workers’ terms and conditions without agreement.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn also entered the debate today, saying unions should rethink their approach to the dispute. “As an outsider looking at the proposal made by the Labour Court it seems very fair and reasonable to me,” he said.

It is understood there were informal behind-the-scenes contacts yesterday regarding possible talks but it was felt there was no basis for a successful outcome as things stood.

Fianna Fáil yesterday criticised Mr Varadkar for “sitting on the sidelines” while passengers were left to suffer.

Meanwhile internal figures seen by The Irish Times suggest staff costs per employee at Dublin Bus had remained static since the height of the boom and reductions in the paybill had come from falling employee numbers. The average staff cost per employee (including employer PRSI) in 2007 was €53,042, while the figure for 2012 was €53,943.

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