New forum will offer stakeholders input into transport policy

Shane Ross says he held ‘fruitful, frank and friendly’ talks with transport trade unions

A new forum is to be set up to give transport companies and the people using their services a chance to have an input into Government policy.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said all stakeholders, including unions, public and private transport operators, disability groups and others would have "an input into policy so we can hear how they feel".

The forum would have an input into the review of transport policy the Government was committed to carrying out, but it would not deal with industrial relations.

Mr Ross held talks on Monday with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu), Siptu, the National Bus and Rail Union, Unite, the TSSA and the TEEU. He said afterwards the meeting had been "useful, fruitful, frank and friendly".


“I committed to meeting with trade unions in the CIÉ Group once industrial relations issues were fully resolved. The purpose of today’s meeting was to hear the perspective of trade unions in relation to issues they and their members have voiced concern about in recent months.”

He said he believed the discussions removed any legacy of bitterness that surrounded the recent dispute at Bus Éireann.

Ictu general secretary Patricia King said that during disputes at a number of transport companies, the trade union movement had indicated to the Minister that a forum would be useful to allow for the genuine concerns of workers and other stakeholders to be heard.


She said at yesterday’s meeting that each union set out the concerns they had, ranging from privatisation to public service obligation funding. There was a key conversation on the role of Department of Transport officials during any dispute.

Siptu divisional organiser Greg Ennis said the forum would be useful for his members and provide an opportunity for the union to set out its vision on public transport for the future.

He said Siptu had raised a number of concerns with the Minister including the level of State subvention for public transport companies and the compensation they received for passengers with free passes.

“What we are about is trying to ensure that the public transport service is funded appropriately, serves the citizens of the State as it should and removes any need for future industrial action.”


But, he said, if workers were again put in a place where they are asked to subsidise companies that should be funded properly by Government, the union would not be found wanting in supporting those workers.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said his union had raised concerns in relation to policy, funding, legislation and industrial relations issues across the public transport sector. He said the union was particularly critical about the role of Department of Transport officials ,who he said, had interfered in industrial relations issues at the CIÉ group of companies.

“The Minister also confirmed that both he and the Government were not in fact pursuing a privatisation agenda and they were supportive of the CIÉ companies remaining in public ownership,” Mr O’Leary said.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent