Union warns of transport chaos as Bus Éireann proposes cuts

State-owned company warns of cuts in premium payments and potential layoffs of staff

Bus Éireann has offered non-pensionable pay rises of up to 3% per annum in some cases. This would be conditional on there being no industrial action of any nature over the course of the deal. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Bus Éireann has offered non-pensionable pay rises of up to 3% per annum in some cases. This would be conditional on there being no industrial action of any nature over the course of the deal. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The State-owned Bus Éireann is to seek to restructure its business and has warned of cuts in premium payments and potential layoffs of staff.

However, as part of an overall four-year package the company has offered non-pensionable pay rises of up to three per cent per anum in some cases. This would be conditional on there be no industrial action of any nature over the course of the deal.

The National Bus and Rail Union has condemned the new survival plan announced by the company as scandalous and has warned of industrial turmoil across the transport sector if the proposed cuts are implemented.

The company, which is facing losses of €8 million this year, has also told unions it wants to cut premium payments and overtime for staff.

It has also suggested a general cut of 10 per cent in allowances.

In a letter to staff acting chief executive Ray Hernan said the current position was not sustainable and if the company did not take decisive steps to address its cost base and inefficiencies it would go out of business.

“ The Government cannot and will not provide support; it is up to us to do what is required. The priority must be on solving our problem internally and within our own resources. In this respect, free travel did not cause our problems and an increase in revenues for such services will not fix our problems.”

He said the new proposals represented “the only and best way to safeguard the maximum number of viable jobs and basic pay whilst ensuring Bus Éireann is efficient and competitive, providing value for money and premium services”.

He urged trade unions urge “ to be responsible and accept these proposals for the sake of the future of Bus Éireann”.

Mr Hernan said Bus Éireannat would be restructured at a pace and time that the company could afford and subject to a rigid cost benefit analysis.

He said there was no voluntary severance scheme open at this time.

He said redeployment and reasonable changes to roles and responsibilities would be needed to facilitate this process.

“Natural attrition and the completion of fixed term contracts will be used as an opportunity to re-structure. The company will seek to reduce/eliminate temporary staff.

“ Where positions are to be made redundant, the company will endeavour to redeploy or achieve the required reductions on a voluntary basis in the first instance.”

“Those directly within the scope of a redundancy situation will be clearly identified and where necessary a fair and transparent process will be used for selection.”

Mr Hernan said in such circumstances severance package for redundancy would be 2½ weeks per year of service plus statutory entitlements of two weeks per year of service with one additional week added.

Meaningful work

However he warned that “where meaningful work is not available or staff refuse reasonable alternative work or redeployment, they will be put on short time or layoff as appropriate”.

“Bus Éireann management will be working hard throughout 2017 to finalise the core efficient structures and staffing numbers required to provide our premium services. There are no specifics available at this time, however, we will ensure the final position enables the company retain existing business and allows us compete successfully for all new tenders and contracts.”

The company has proposed that the existing 100 per cent premium for working on a Sunday would be reduced to 20 per cent on the basis that Sunday was part of the normal working week.

It said that rota and shift premium payments would be eliminated to reflect competition.

Overtime rates will be reduced to time and a quarter and double time for public holidays.

“There will be a general reduction in allowances. While this may vary from item to item, we are seeking a 10 per cent cut overall.

Sick pay benefits wwould also in future be based on basic salary only.