Talks continue but little sign of progress at Bus Éireann

NBRU and Siptu insist pickets will not be lifted while new negotiations are underway

Bus Eireann, around Busaras in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Bus Eireann, around Busaras in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

With the all-out strike at Bus Éireann set to enter its 14th day, talks were continuing at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) aimed at bringing the dispute to an end.

Trade unions insisted again on Wednesday that they would not be removing pickets during the new round of negotiations.

Speaking at the start of the talks on Wednesday, Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), said he was not entering the new process with any great optimism.

He said there was a very strong resolve among his members that they would notleave until there was something substantial set out that they could vote on.

The NBRU and Siptu said the strike would continue.

Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said the union had members in Munster who had been dismissed, while others had had their pay cut by €250 - €300 per week.

“We cannot call off the strike in circumstance where management is going to continue with those cuts.”

Unions indicatedthat they would be seeking to focus in the the new talks on the contribution that management will make towards saving Bus Eireann, which is facing potential insolvency in the weeks ahead.

Mr O’Leary said the management to staff ratio in Bus Eireann was very high.

He said it was distasteful to hear managers criticising bus drivers when they themselves were receiving salaries that were three or four times higher.

Mr Noone said the new process was going to be hard and complex, and he did not believe it would conclude on Wednesday.

“Management once and for all have to show how they are going to put in their piece towards saving this company.”

He said a serious reduction in management numbers was required.

“We need people identified who were responsible for this debacle.”

Mr Noone also said that highly-paid consultants who were brought into Bus Eireann from the outside need to be removed from the company.

The strike began a fortnight ago in protest at plans by management to introduce new cost-saving efficency measures and work practice changes without agreement.

The company has argued that the moves are essential to stave off impending insolvency.