Bus Éireann workers announce all-out strike

The strike action will begin on February 20th to coincide with the planned introduction of cuts to workers terms and conditions

Unions representing workers at Bus Éireann have announced an all-out strike beginning on the 20th February.

The strike has been timed to coincide with the date the company reportedly plans to introduce unilateral cuts to workers terms and conditions.

Unions believe the cuts could amount to losses of over 30% to workers earnings.

The cuts were included in a highly controversial survival plan drawn up for the company that includes potential redundancies, cuts in premium payments and out-sourcing.

Unions have refused to enter negotiations while the survival plan is held as a pre-condition. Bus Éireann management on the other hand have insisted that nothing they have issued over recent weeks constitutes a precondition.

Addressing the Oireachtas Finance Committee  Wednesday afternoon, Transport Minister Shane Ross urged the unions and company management to come together and talk.

Effectively calling on the company to withdraw the survival plan, the minister asked both sides to "go the table with a blank sheet of paper." 

In a statement Thursday, the unions said Bus Éireann has had “ample opportunity to over the last 48 Hours to positively respond to requests from all Trade Unions to withdraw the preconditions of pay cuts.”

Bus Éireann has said that the entire company is in danger of going out of business with the loss of 2,600 jobs unless decisive actions are taken.

The company’s dire financial situation stems from its loss making Expressway service - which provides connectivity to number of rural communities around the country.

The unions met today to decide what action to take in response to what they called an “appalling attack on semi-state workers.”

“Our representatives have today decided to engage in an all-out strike, effective from the 20th February 2017 in response to this appalling and unprecedented attack,” reads the statement.

“It remains a matter for Bus Éireann to decide if it wants to run the risk of bringing travel chaos to bear on the communities it is obliged to serve, or enter meaningful talks with the Trade Union Group without preconditions.”

Bus Éireann acting CEO Ray Hernan says he is 'more than willing to hear any alternative proposals' for achieving savings of €30m.

"Bus Éireann will not put pre-conditions on any talks that will assist in addressing the current financial crisis to ensure the long term viability of the company", Mr Hernan says.

He also says necessary efficiencies must be found within the company because it is a long term solution and not a short term fix, which is required.

"Bus Éireann has commenced consultation with the National Transport Authority to ensure connectivity is maintained for our customers.

"Given that it has been clarified by the Minister for Transport that no funding can be made available for commercial services, Bus Éireann believes it is imperative that talks commence urgently to protect the long term future of the business, which today marks its 30th anniversary as the largest national transport provider in Ireland".