Bus Éireann workers accept proposals to end dispute

The proposals put forward in April brought 21 days of strike action at the company to an end

Bus Éireann workers accept proposals to end dispute

A Bus Éireann bus as it leaves Bus Áras station in Dublin city centre | Image: RollingNews.ie

The membership of two of the unions representing Bus Éireann workers have voted to accept Labour Court proposals aimed at resolving the dispute.

The proposals put forward in April brought 21 days of strike action at the company to an end.

However, unions warned they needed time to consider the proposals and put them to their members before voting on how to proceed.

This afternoon, both SIPTU and the Unite trade unions have announced that their member have voted to accept the proposals.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone said the acceptance of the recommendations “can only be described as a purely pragmatic decision.”

He said the agreement “will have huge cultural, structural and financial implications for all staff within the company and indeed the wider CIÉ Group.”

He said the implementation of the agreement – particularly in regard to driver's rosters and the timetable and procedure for voluntary severances will need to be negotiated with the company.

“Our union will fully expect the company to honour fully those aspects of the recommendation which affect workers’ conditions in a positive way,” he said. “SIPTU representatives will also ensure that the recommendation is not used as an avenue to extract other cuts which are not included in it.”

The union leader warned that workers remain angry about the attitude adopted by the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross and “his fellow Independent Alliance cohorts” during the long running dispute.

Unions had consistently pleaded for the minister to involve himself in the negotiations - despite his insistence that his department had no place in what he viewed as an industrial relations dispute.

“Their inaction in response to an attempt by a semi-state company to introduce work practices and conditions of employment that decent employers made obsolete many decades ago, is something that will be long remembered,” said Mr Noone.

“SIPTU will take up the offer by the minister to participate in a forum to deal with issues that arose during this dispute.

“Through this mechanism, we will seek to ensure that our members’ livelihoods and the future of public transport in Ireland are protected.”

Members of the Unite trade union have also voted to accept the recommendations.

Spokesperson Willie Quigley said the agreement demands heavy sacrifices from workers and warned that “both management and the government bear responsibility for the crisis facing the company.”

“Given the gravity of the situation facing Bus Éireann, a majority of our members may have felt they had no option but to accept highly unpalatable measures in the hope that the company’s fortunes can be turned around,” he said. 

“Our members are picking up the tab for a financial crisis not of their making. 

“Now, the focus must be on mapping a sustainable road forward for Ireland’s public transport system in general and Bus Éireann in particular.”

He called on the government to bring forward plans for a forum on Ireland’s public transport system involving all stakeholders.

He said Unite hopes to play a constructive role in the forum – but warned that if the forum is to be more than a “talking shop” the government will need to make a long-term financial commitment to the future of public transport as a public service.

SIPTU members voted to accept the proposals by 53.4% to 46.6%.