Shane Ross admits Bus Éireann will require more public investment

The Unite union has said its members in Bus Éireann have voted unanimously in favour of strike action

Shane Ross admits Bus Éireann will require more public investment

Image: RollingNews.ie

The Minister for Transport has admitted that Bus Éireann will need more public investment in the coming years.

However, speaking in the Dáil last night, Shane Ross said he will not intervene in the current dispute between management and workers - because that is the job of the Labour Court.

During a Dáil debate on a motion put forward by Fianna Fáil's Spokesperson for Transport Robert Troy, Minister Ross said that while the motion came at the right time, he does not share Deputy Troy's "road to the solution".

"Rural Ireland is a top priority for this government", he said. "I am committed to ensuring that rural Ireland maintains an appropriate level to public transport connectivity.

Minister Ross met the National Transport Authority (NTA) last week, and said he was "reassured" with what they had to say.

"I support constructive dialogue between management and its employees - and it's only through such dialogue that the company's difficulties can be resolved.

"We should avoid embroiling ministers in resolving industrial relations issues that would cut across the respective roles," he added.

On the subject of public funding, he explained: "I know our system needs more money, despite the fact that we've spent around €2.3bn since 2008.

"I'm committed on the socially necessary services... I'm committed towards increasing the PSO [Public Service Obligation] subvention as resources allow."

Strike

Meanwhile, Bus Éireann workers belonging to the Unite trade union have voted unanimously for strike action.

Unite regional officer Willie Quigley said: "Today's ballot result reflects the anger felt by Unite members and other Bus Éireann workers at the company's behaviour during the past number of months, and in particular the past fortnight.

"Their refusal to engage in an arranged hearing at the Labour Court in December has been compounded by a deliberate strategy of selective media leaks and threats designed to intimidate the workforce and confuse the public.

"The much-vaunted Grant Thornton report has still not been provided to unions, and yesterday we learnt through the media of another 'internal' report whose recommendations were apparently rejected.

"At the same time, leaks to local media are reporting the threatened closure of some garages - causing great concern to workers and local communities. Our members' growing anger at management's behaviour has been exacerbated by the Minister's persistent refusal to take a proactive role in this crisis and convene a meeting of all stakeholders."

Unions are set to meet on Thursday February 2nd to agree a course of action in response to the proposed cuts. NBRU and SIPTU members have already indicated their intention to take industrial action.