Bus Éireann workers "resolute" as talks adjourn

Unions have refused to lift their strike action ahead of talks at the Workplace Relations Commission

The National Bus and Rail Union has said its members on the Bus Éireann picket lines are “resolute” as talks adjourned this evening.

SIPTU, the NBRU and Unite trade unions sat down with company management at the Workplace Relations Commission.

However, pickets will remain in place at depots across the country, on what will be the 13th day of strike action over proposed cost-cutting plans.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary said there is no change in his members' positions:

“It is getting a bit jaded for people who are listening to it,” he said. “But it is certainly not getting jaded for the people standing on the picket line, they are resolute.”

“What it has done, the dispute, instead of lowering morale it has had the opposite effect and people are determined to see this out until such time as they see a proposal hopefully from the talks over the next number of days.”

Following the previous round of negotiations both sides in the dispute accused each other of being inflexible.

Unions are refusing to accept unilateral cuts to workers terms and conditions, while management are insisting the company will go insolvent unless large-scale savings can be made.

SIPTU spokesman Willie Noone said the company have walked away from the negotiations twice in the past.

He said unions would not be calling off the strikes as talks get underway:

“Our people are not going to go back into work in circumstances where the cuts that were imposed on the 16th of January are still in place,” he said.

“It is untenable that we would actually call off the pickets in circumstances where those cuts would still be applied.”

He once again called on Transport Minister Shane Ross to intervene.

“We do need his department to get involved at some stage because essential to the talks that are going to take place is issues surrounding the licensing of buses and the laissez faire in which they are issuing out licences,” he said.

“It is driving conditions of employment and standards in the transport sector into the ground so there will have to be some input from his department at some stage.”

The strike is costing the company €500,000 per day.

Mr Noone said that unions are aware that there are inefficiencies that have to be dealt with at the company - but warned that “equity has to prevail” adding that management numbers have to be cut back.

“We believe it is top-heavy,” he said. “We believe that if there is going to be some cost-cutting pay-roll then management have to play a lead role in that.”

Talks are due to get underway at 10:30 this morning.