Staff at Bus Éireann face cuts under plan


LABOUR COURT: Staff at Bus Éireann are facing cuts in overtime, shift payments and sick leave arrangements under the terms of a Labour Court recommendation issued yesterday.

The court has also proposed that the working week for clerical staff at the company be increased from 36 to 39 hours.

The finding is being watched carefully be participants in the current talks on extending the Croke Park agreement. Proposals put forward by management in the Croke Park talks are similar in many ways to the cuts set out by Bus Éireann.

The court said it was satisfied Bus Éireann was experiencing serious financial difficulties that had the potential to undermine its continued viability. It said it was further satisfied that significant reduction in its operating costs, including payroll, were essential to address the company’s difficulties.

However, it said the changes to terms and conditions that it recommended should only apply until the company returned to a “reasonable and sustainable” level of profitability.

It said the situation should be reviewed at the end of 2014 and every year subsequently.

The intervention of the Labour Court averted a potential strike in protest at plans by management to implement a recovery plan unilaterally.

The company argued it needed to reduce its cost base significantly and proposed saving around €7.6 million by changing existing terms and conditions.

Trade unions, Siptu, the NBRU and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association contended that the measures would have an unacceptable impact on the earnings of members.

The Labour Court recommended the first two hours of overtime in any day be reduced from 1.5 times to 1.25 times and that it should be paid at 1.5 times thereafter.

It said overtime for Sunday work, which is currently paid at double time, should be cut to 1.5 times. It said there should be no change to the double-time bonus for staff rostered for normal duty on a Sunday.

The court said public holidays should be paid at 1.25 times in addition to statutory entitlements, while overtime for public holidays, which was paid at double time, should be paid at 1.25 times for the first for the first two hours and 1.5 times thereafter.

It also said that shift payments of one-sixth should be reduced to one-seventh.

The Labour Court said that the number of self-certified sick leave days should be reduced from four to two per year.