Fresh Bus Éireann talks could see strikes lifted

Strike action by over 2,500 workers at the company is now entering its 11th day

Fresh Bus Éireann talks could see strikes lifted

Bus Eireann buses in Dublin | Image: Rollingnews.ie

Updated: 12:35 

One of the unions involved in the dispute at Bus Éireann has suggested strike action could be suspended ahead of potential new negotiations.

The Unite trade union has hinted it could lift its strike action if the company withdraws plans to unilaterally impose cost-cutting measures.

It comes amid renewed speculation that all parties could be invited back to the Workplace Relations Commission for a fresh round of talks aimed at ending the stand-off.

Strike action by over 2,500 workers at the company is now entering its 11th day.

It has been reported that the state workplace relations body will only issue the invitation if there is no repeat of Friday’s wildcat action that left commuters stranded.

Commuters were left stranded on Friday after Bus Éireann workers set up unofficial pickets at a number of depots that resulted in service cancellations at both Dublin Bus and Irish Rail.

Unions including SIPTU and the NBRU have claimed that they were not involved in planning the unofficial action.

Unite Trade Union

Speaking to the Pat Kenny Show this afternoon, Unite spokesman Willie Quigley said progress could be made on the strike – provided plans to unilaterally impose cuts are withdrawn.

“That would bring us back to where we were; engaging and talking to try and resolve the matter,” he said.

“We are willing to re-engage and be at talks with them trying to resolve the matter any day at any time.

“So I would assume that would bring us back to a point where there was no strike in place and that we were engaging, trying to resolve the matter.”

Workplace Relations Commission

Unions and management involved in the dispute already attended intensive talks at the WRC in the lead-up to the current strike action.

Both sides have accused each other of being inflexible - with unions refusing to accept unilateral cuts to workers terms and conditions and management insisting the company will go insolvent unless large-scale savings can be made.

There have been repeated calls for the Minister for Transport to host talks with all stakeholders and discuss the future of Ireland’s public transport system - however he has refused to do so while the dispute is ongoing.

Journalist Martin Wall, industry correspondent with the Irish Times told Newstalk Breakfast this morning that there will need to be an indication that something has changed since the last round of talks in order for the WRC to involve itself again:

“For the parties to come back there has to be an indication from the parties that they wanted to go back into talks or that they were prepared to move," he said.

"And bear in mind that management at Bus Éireann a fortnight ago said they thought at that stage there was no basis for further engagement with the staff side."

National Bus and Rail Union

Speaking this morning NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said talks involving all public transport stakeholders are the only way the dispute can be resolved.

“Certainly to resolve this crisis and provide us with an overarching and sustainable solution, we would require a forum along the lines that we have already suggested,” he said.

“By the way, this type of forum is already been provided for in legislation that has never been set up.

“I suspect it hasn’t been set up because the Department of Transport and indeed the National Transport Authority, whose fingerprints are all over this crisis, do not want a forum of that type.

“They may feel that they would have to be answering to somebody in that type of environment.”

The WRC has said all along that it remains available to assist whenever required – however, no such request has yet been made.

The strike is reported to be costing the company approximately €500,000 a day.