Talks aimed at resolving Bus Éireann strike to begin on Wednesday

Bus Éireann has clocked up €1.3m in fines so far because of strike

 NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary, speaking to Striking Bus Eireann workers near Leinster House. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary, speaking to Striking Bus Eireann workers near Leinster House. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

New talks aimed at resolving the strike and financial crisis at Bus Éireann are to get under way today.

The company and trade unions Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said they had accepted an invitation to attend discussions issued by the Workplace Relations Commission.

However, the strike is to continue in the meantime.

Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said: “Over the last 12 days of strike action our members have remained resolute in their position. They will not accept unilateral changes to their terms and conditions of employment. They will also not start down a road that would see their terms and conditions of employment forced into line with those of the lowest paid workers in the transport sector.”

He said pickets would remain in place outside Bus Éireann depots while the talks continued.

“This is due to fact that some of our members have been dismissed from their jobs in recent days. To expect our members to return to work without resolving this situation or reversing the cuts that the company has already imposed on other workers is not reasonable or acceptable.

Dignity

Dermot O’Leary, the general secretary of the NBRU, said one of the first issues his union would be seeking was a complete review of the managerial structure at Bus Éireann, “inclusive of the salary levels associated with the roles of those who are leading the demand for our members to become more productive”.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Bus Éireann is facing fines of about €1.3 million so far for failing to provide services as a result of the current strike.

The money will be withheld from the annual State subvention provided to the company by the National Transport Authority.

Fuel costs

The fines that will be imposed on Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann as a result of the cancellation of their services last Friday as a result of secondary picketing is still being assessed by the National Transport Authority.

The authority provides funding to the three State-owned transport companies.

If services are not provided, a set amount of money is withheld each day from the annual subvention.

The National Transport Authority said Bus Éireann receives a subvention of about €125,000 for every weekday and €75,000 for each weekend day. The fines to date as a result of the strike will run to about €1.3 million.

About 2,600 workers at Bus Éireann have been on strike for 12 days over plans by management to introduce cost-saving measures and work practice reforms without the agreement of staff. The company argues the moves are essential if it is to stave off insolvency.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross welcomed the acceptance by all partie of the invitation to attend Workplace Relations Commission talks.

“I hope that all involved can use this opportunity to agree upon an acceptable and fair deal,” he said.