Taoiseach insists bus row must be resolved at workplace commission

Enda Kenny rejects calls for Shane Ross to intervene in Bus Éireann dispute

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny: strike can only be resolved by the Workplace Relations Commission. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: strike can only be resolved by the Workplace Relations Commission. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

 

The Bus Éireann strike can only be resolved by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

“Both sides have admitted that there are issues that need to be discussed,’’ he added. “That is the opportunity for them to discuss those, at the WRC.’’

Mr Kenny was replying in the Dáil to Solidarity TD Brid Smith who said Minister for Transport Shane Ross should also be at the table.

The Taoiseach said Ms Smith knew a Minister could not sit at the table because everybody else would then say the Government was stepping in “for all of these issues’’.

Ms Smith said she had the honour and privilege in recent days of meeting some very fine Irish men and women on the Bus Éireann picket lines.

One of them, Tommy St Ledger, in Broadstone, had worked 51 years of his life with the company and was due to retire in June “on a glorious pension of €97 a week’’.

Field of competition

She claimed the National Transport Authority (NTA) had deliberately forced Bus Éireann into an uneven playing field of competition with the private operator to drag people working for the company down.

Ms Smith said the strike was of interest to other transport workers, given that if the Taoiseach and the Government got their way the jobs and conditions of public transport workers generally would be diminished.

She challenged the Taoiseach to attend at the Leinster House gates at lunchtime on Wednesday and welcome the hundreds of bus, rail and Dart users who would be there.

They would tell the Minister he could not wash his hands of the strike.

Mr Kenny said Mr Ross would be before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport at that time. He said the Government had increased the public service obligation funding by €28 million in each of the past two years.