Union claims Bus Éireann dispute could spread to other transport companies

The NBRU says workers have been "thrown to the wolves" and warned union members at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail could join the dispute

Union claims Bus Éireann dispute could spread to other transport companies

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The union representing Bus Éireann workers has warned that other trade unions in the transport sector could be dragged into the ongoing dispute.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has said workers have been “thrown to the wolves” by the government and company management.

In a letter to unions, the company said it "will go out of business" without major changes - including restructuring.

Wage increases of between 1% and 3% percent have been offered to employees - but bosses at the transport firm have also announced cutbacks to other rates and conditions.

NBRU general secretary, Dermot O’Leary said “it has been suggested” the proposed cut-backs could amount to losses of 30% for workers.

Insolvency within 18 months

The company is calling on staff to "accept redeployment and reasonable changes to roles and responsibilities" - after recently announcing it is facing insolvency within 18 months unless, “decisive actions are taken to reverse losses.

Mr O’Leary insisted the company’s financial difficulties have arisen as a result of decisions taken by the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority (NTA) and warned that the government has, “a responsibility to meet the costs required to keep the company solvent.”

“They have now decided that they won’t meet the cost and they are going to put that cost on the worker,” he said. “The worker will not accept that cost.”

In a statement last week the NTA said claims the authority was responsible for the company’s financial woes, “simply do not stand up to scrutiny.”

Spread to other companies

Mr O’Leary said that should the situation lead to industrial action, members of other transport companies - Irish Rail and Dublin Bus - may join the dispute in solidarity with their Bus Éireann colleagues.

He said they have “been telling us as recently as last night that they are not going tolerate a situation where their fellow members, their fellow workers, are going to have their core conditions cut.”

“I have a dispute to prosecute with Bus Éireann and by extension the government,” he said. “I can’t drag anyone into any dispute; I can’t stop people reacting either.”

He said claim from the Minster for Transport, Shane Ross that he has not read the survival plan drawn up for the company by Grant Thornton is “absolutely outrageous.”

He said the report was issued to the board of the company last September.

In the Dáil yesterday the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny defended Minster Ross and said the Minister had briefed the Cabinet on the contents of the report "from what he read about it in in the newspapers and other comments."

Mandate for industrial action

In a statement last night SIPTU - the other major union representing Bus Éireann workers - confirmed that they have already attained a mandate for industrial action.

“For a semi-state company to issue such an ill thought out set of proposals after months of inertia is completely unacceptable,” said SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone.

“The credibility and motives of the new management of Bus Éireann has to be seriously questioned when it is offering to pay some employees 1%, 2% or 3% of a rise, on reduced incomes when cash flow allows - in return for them accepting a real pay cut of up to 30% now.”

“SIPTU members will work with their colleagues in the other Bus Éireann unions to do whatever is necessary to protect the services they provide and workers’ pay and conditions."

The Department of Transport has been contacted for comment.