Union warns of ‘flashpoints’ after Bus Éireann loses routes

Any further moves to open routes to tender would ‘inevitably’ mean industrial unrest

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said the union was concerned that members working on the Kildare routes for Bus Éireann would not be forced to move “to an inferior employer”.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said the union was concerned that members working on the Kildare routes for Bus Éireann would not be forced to move “to an inferior employer”.

 

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has warned of “potential industrial flashpoints” after State-owned Bus Éireann lost the rights to operate Kildare commuter routes.

The union signalled that any further moves by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to open up further services currently operated by Bus Éireann to tender would “inevitably lead to major industrial unrest across the public transport system”.

Under Government reforms, 10 per cent of routes run by Dublin Bus as well as Bus Éireann services in Waterford and in Kildare were put out to tender.

UK bus operator Go Ahead has secured the contract for the services in Dublin city as well as services on the Kildare commuter corridor currently operated by Bus Éireann. Bus Éireann retained the rights to run services in Waterford.

The 120, 120C, 123, 124, 126 and 130 will be operated under the Go Ahead contract, with 23 new vehicles operating on the route. These will include 13 double-deck-coaches and 12 single-deck regional buses.

The affected routes link Dublin city centre to towns including Athy, Kilcullen, Kildare, Maynooth, Naas, Newbridge and Rathangan in Co Kildare; Edenderry and Tullamore in Co Offaly; Portlaoise in Co Laois and Enfield in Co Meath.

NTA chief executive Anne Graham said on Friday the decision to tender the services operated by Bus Éireann was about “improving public transport for the commuters in Kildare”. She said the introduction of competitive tendering into PSO (Public Service Obligation) operations “usually results in a much better deal for passengers and for the public in general”.

The NTA said fares would remain the same under Go Ahead and that free travel passes and leap cards could be used on the new routes.

Hopes on punctuality

The authority said it hoped the new buses would improve punctuality and reliability for passengers and that timetables and routes would change under the new ownership.

Go Ahead will have to secure its own bus depots under the contract. An estimated 70 drivers will be affected by the changes.

Asked whether workers’ rights, pay scales and union clauses would be recognised under the tender, Ms Graham said it would be up to the operator to implement pay scales. She said the agreement did not include union recognition but that Go Ahead would have to comply with all industrial relations legislation.

Ms Graham noted that the Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann contracts were due to expire on December 1st, 2019 and that a decision would be made by the end of 2018 regarding the continuation of contracts.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said the union was concerned that members working on the Kildare routes for Bus Éireann would not be forced to move “to an inferior employer”.

“Despite the fact that Bus Éireann, after coming through a difficult three-week dispute has, with the vital support of our members, been hitting all the stringent performance-related targets set down by the NTA, this pro-privatisation Government has decided to thumb its nose to the State-owned public transport provider and siphon these routes off to private operators, pumping millions of euro of taxpayers’ money into the pockets of the shareholders of large multinational corporations in the form of lucrative annual dividends.”