NBRU condemns "disgraceful" unofficial strike action

Commuters were left stranded today after unofficial secondary pickets were put in place at a number of bus and rail depots

NBRU condemns "disgraceful" unofficial strike action

Bus ervices returning to normal this afternoon, 31-03-2017. Image: RollingNews

The general secretary of one of the main unions representing Bus Éireann workers has condemned this morning’s “wildcat” strike action.

Commuters were left stranded today after unofficial secondary pickets were put in place at a number of bus and rail depots.

Workers at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail were unable to go to work without passing the unofficial pickets – resulting in the cancellation of all services until this afternoon.

Commuters and management at both companies were taken completely by surprise by the action – which came without any official warning.

Speaking to Newstalk Drive this afternoon Dermot O’Leary, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) general secretary said the action was “disgraceful.”

He admitted that a number of NBRU were almost certainly involved - however he insisted he had no knowledge of the plans beforehand.

“I am quite categorical in saying that what happened this morning should not have happened,” he said. “Of course I condemn what happened it is unofficial action.”

He said trade unions are still in the process of establishing what happened – adding that having no knowledge it was going to happen, he had no control over it.

“The only dispute I am able to prosecute is with Bus Éireann because of the appalling treatment of our members at that company,” he said.

“I have no dispute with Dublin Bus, I have no dispute with Irish Rail and employees and members of mine at both of those companies should not have been involved in not being at work this morning. They should have been at work.”

Earlier, the Transport Minister Shane Ross described the wildcat action as an “orchestrated ambush” - and again refused to get involved in the dispute.

Frustrated workforce

Mr O’Leary said the action was a symptom of an extremely frustrated workforce.

“It shouldn’t have happened; I can’t be much stronger than that but I will defend my members and their frustration,” he said.

“Let’s be clear we are not talking about the miner strike in England here, we are talking about a frustrated workforce that took the law into their own hands.”

He said all the stakeholders in the dispute need to consider what led to the unofficial action and what steps need to be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“It is my job to ensure it doesn’t happen again but I can’t do that on my own,” he said.

“I would need the help of the company in the first instance, I certainly would need the assistance of government and I certainly would need the assistance of a third party because if it can happen once without my knowledge, what is to say it can’t happen a second time without my knowledge.”

Happy to return to talks

He said unions are happy to return to talks at any time should they receive an invitation.

The unions have no preconditions for entering talks and Mr O'Leary insisted the only reason the last round of negotiations fell apart was because the company walked away.

He said the strike action was triggered when the chief executive of Bus Éireann wrote to staff imposing 46 different cost-cutting measures on staff.

“There are no conditions, if we are invited to talks we will be there,” he said. “It is not our decision to convene talks.”

“There is a very real live debilitating transport dispute at this very moment, it is eight days old.

“There is a reason why that dispute commenced. There is reason why it is still on. It is called cuts to people’s pay and conditions.”

Irish Rail and Dublin Bus services have now returned to normal following this morning’s interruptions.