Talks were continuing last night between unions and management at Dublin Bus in an effort to resolve the dispute over cost-cutting plans which led to a three-day strike in the capital earlier this week.
The strike was suspended on Tuesday following the intervention of the Labour Court to invite the parties to attend exploratory talks. Management also deferred implementation of the cost-saving programme to allow new negotiations proceed.
Trade union Siptu has said the talks at the Labour Court would be "very difficult".
Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said his members had rejected an earlier Labour Court recommendation on cost-cutting plans at the company and there would have to be "movement" on those proposals.
Arriving at the Labour Court for the start of talks yesterday, Mr Noone said that when they balloted on proposals his members needed "to know what they were getting". He said they needed to be able to quantify that and to have their concerns and fears addressed.
Dermot O'Leary, of the National Bus and Rail Union, said issues around certainty regarding the duration of the proposed retrenchment measures and the contribution of management to the saving programme would be key issues. His union had come to the talks "to do business".
Philip Donohue, head of human resources at Dublin Bus, said he was hopeful of a resolution.
He said it was critical the necessary savings were achieved, and that the firm had lost €600,000 in the three-day strike which he described as regrettable. Dublin Bus is seeking to generate savings of €11.7 million under the cost-saving programme.
The original Labour Court recommendation proposed that cuts to overtime and premium rates as well as changes to the working week and annual leave should remain in place for a period of 19 months following acceptance by all parties.
The recommendation said terms and conditions of employment at issue were of long standing and were not out of line with those applying in similar employments, including employments within the CIÉ group of companies.
“In these circumstances, the court has consistently pointed out that it will only recommend retrenchment in established conditions of employment where, on independently verified financial evidence, it is plainly and unambiguously necessary to do so in order to protect employment,” it said.
The strike at Dublin Bus was the second to hit the broader CIÉ group in recent months over plans by management to introduce financial restructuring in the face of reductions in the State subvention, falling passenger revenue and rising fuel costs.
In May, staff at Bus Éireann went on strike for two days before a deal was reached on cost savings in the company.
Situation at Irish Rail
Management at Irish Rail – the third company in the CIÉ group – have also proposed cost-saving measures which have been opposed by staff. This issue is expected to be referred to the Labour Court in the weeks ahead.