Siptu members in Bus Éireann vote for Labour Court proposals

Recommendations were issued following a 21-day strike over cost-cutting

Management at Bus Éireann has argued that the company is facing insolvency in the absence of remedial action.

Management at Bus Éireann has argued that the company is facing insolvency in the absence of remedial action.

 

Staff in Bus Éireann represented by the Siptu and Unite trade unions have voted to accept Labour Court recommendations aimed at resolving the long-running dispute at the company.

A ballot of members of the National Bus and Rail Union is still underway and will not be counted for another week or so.

Siptu said its members in Bus Éireann backed the Labour Court proposals by a margin of by 53.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent.

Unite, which represents about 70 craft workers at Bus Éireann, said there was a 2:1 majority in favour of the proposals drawn up by the Labour Court.

The 17-page Labour Court recommendation includes proposals for cuts of 10 per cent to earnings over €60,000, freezes on increments, and the closure of Dundalk maintenance garage.

Nearly 2,000 staff at the State - owned bus company staged a three-week all - out strike in March and April moves by management to impose cost-saving measures without agreement.

Management at Bus Éireann has argued that the company is facing insolvency in the absence of remedial action.

Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said acceptance of the Labour Court recommendation by his union’s members could only be described as a purely pragmatic decision as its contents would have huge cultural, structural and financial implications for all staff within the company and indeed the wider CIÉ Group.

“The implementation of the recommendation will require further discussion with the company, particularly in regard to the construction of rosters for drivers as well as the timeframes and selection processes afforded to employees to exit on voluntary severance. The implementation of the recommendation will have some positive outcomes for some employees, particularly as it affects their pensions. “

“Our union will fully expect the company to honour fully those aspects of the recommendation which affect workers’ conditions in a positive way.”

He said Siptu representatives would also ensure that the recommendation was not used as an avenue to extract other cuts which were not included in the Labour Court recommendation.

“The need to involve Bus Éireann school bus drivers as well as Dublin Bus and Irish Rail members in a protracted transport dispute to protect core terms and conditions of employment has now abated.

However, the fact that over 4,700 Siptu members throughout the CIÉ group of companies were on the verge of becoming engaged in this dispute is a reflection of the level of anger felt by them concerning the attitude adopted by the Minister for Transport Shane Ross, and his fellow Independent Alliance cohorts.

“Their inaction in response to an attempt by a semi-state company to introduce work practices and conditions of employment that decent employers made obsolete many decades ago, is something that will be long remembered.

“Siptu will take up the offer by the Minister to participate in a forum to deal with issues that arose during this dispute. Through this mechanism, we will seek to ensure that our members’ livelihoods and the future of public transport in Ireland are protected.”

Willie Quigley of the Unite union said the terms of the Labour Court recommendation demanded heavy sacrifices of Bus Éireann workers.

He said both management and the Government shared responsibility for the crisis facing the company, and he demanded a timeline be announced for the establishment of a stakeholder forum to discuss the future of public transport in Ireland.

“Given the gravity of the situation facing Bus Éireann, a majority of our members may have felt they had no option but to accept highly unpalatable measures in the hope that the company’s fortunes can be turned around.

“Our members are picking up the tab for a financial crisis not of their making. Now, the focus must be on mapping a sustainable road forward for Ireland’s public transport system in general and Bus Éireann in particular.

“In that regard, I am calling on the Government to state when the proposal for a stakeholder forum - which was endorsed in the Labour Court recommendation - will be implemented.

“Unite looks forward to playing a constructive role in that forum. However, we would reiterate that - if the forum is to be more than a talking shop - the Government must make a long-term financial commitment to the future of public transport as a public service.”