Mass disruption as Bus Éireann to strike

The company has approved “immediate cost savings”

Mass disruption as Bus Éireann to strike

Image: Rollingnews.ie

Thousands of people are facing travel disruption as workers at Bus Éireann are to hold an all-out strike from March 6th.

It comes as the board of company approved proposals for “immediate cost savings” to be implemented from the same date.

Bus Éireann say this is due to the "perilous state" of the company’s finances and the failure to reach agreement with unions at the Workplace Relations Committee (WRC) last week.

In a statement the firm says: "These measures are vital to ensure that the company remains solvent, and can continue to trade as a going concern.

"The company must deal with its challenges directly, and the board have a duty to ensure Bus Éireann is financially sustainable and therefore must take the necessary steps to secure this.

"Further dialogue aimed at urgently resolving these challenges would be welcome.”

NBRU General-Secretary Dermot O’Leary said workers will engage in all-out indefinite strike.

He said: “Bus Éireann management are determined to steer a course towards conflict by issuing ultimatums to staff, before they have had the opportunity to digest, never mind analyse the detail contained in this latest missive.

“Placing an emphasis on, as it were, parking the race to the bottom agenda for now, and replacing it with broad sweeping generalisations under insider specific language, is obviously designed to create an impression that there has been a major shift in policy, away from raiding workers’ pay packets to plug the policy induced financial gap at Expressway.”

He added: “The fact is that by informing staff that they are going to introduce far reaching and financially impactful measures from next Monday, without agreement, Bus Éireann has left us with no option but to inform the company that we will reactivate our previously notified strike action to coincide with the implementation of these measures.”

"Sad, but inevitable"

 SIPTU's Willie Noone also says his union will be joining the strike action next week.

"The company have written out to all the staff this evening, and as feared the company have given an implementation date for the 6th of March for a number of proposals to be put in place – and that’s now going to trigger a strike.

"It’s ominous that they have decided that management themselves should take no cuts at all – but yet their hitting the poorest paid people in the company.

“So the combination of those things just means that a strike now is inevitable - sad, but inevitable” he said.

Speaking to Newstalk Drive, Mr Noone also said talks are the best way to resolve the issues.

“The public should be aware that we didn’t walk out of the talks a few days ago – it was the company that walked out.

“There was five trade unions sitting at the table and the company decided that they weren’t making progress quick enough and therefore could see no reason for the talks to continue.

“They then went out and gave media statements saying that they had to save their money ASAP and they were going to go ahead and implement changes.

“Why they couldn’t have stayed in talks for the last number of days beggars belief”.

Asked if SIPTU will be joining the NBRU strike, he said: "We will indeed - not only will we be joining it, we will be to the front of that strike.

"We will be with out colleagues on the 6th of March on strike".

There are also fears any strike action at Bus Éireann could lead to solidarity action by other CIE companies.

It followed a meeting earlier this month between SIPTU representatives of members in Irish Rail, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann.

At the meeting, SIPTU said its members in Irish Rail and Dublin Bus indicated they are “willing to take whatever appropriate actions are necessary to support their colleagues in Bus Éireann, as they all are members of CIE companies and have corresponding conditions of employment and work locations."

Minister's statement

A spokesperson for Minister Ross said in a statement today: "The Minister welcomes the Board’s willingness to undertake further discussions and again encourages the employer and employees to engage urgently in a constructive manner. This is necessary to resolve this difficult industrial relations situation, which threatens to greatly inconvenience the travelling public, especially those in rural Ireland.

"In relation to the small number of route changes announced by the Company, the Minister is aware that the National Transport Authority is conducting a transport needs assessment in relation to affected areas and will ensure continued public transport connectivity."