Leo Varadkar calls for Dublin Bus strike to be suspended during talks

Fine Gael minister: Strike cancellation would 'help with goodwill all round'

Leo Varadkar calls for Dublin Bus strike to be suspended during talks

Dublin Buses parked at the Ringsend bus depot in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has said strike action by Dublin Bus drivers should be cancelled once talks resume later today.

Management and unions are due to begin what has been described as "exploratory discussions" this afternoon, in a bid to resolve the ongoing pay dispute.

Further work stoppages are planned for Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday of this week, as well as 10 more days next month.

Drivers are seeking a 15% pay rise over the next three years, as well as a payment in lieu of an agreed 6% increase that was deferred in 2009.

Dublin Bus insists it can only afford the 8.25% increase recommended by the Labour Court.

Mr Varadkar told Newstalk Breakfast this morning that he was "pleased" to see both sides being willing to engage in talks.

"I hope the unions and the employers can come to an agreement," he said.

The Fine Gael minister added that he thought it would “be appropriate for strikes to be suspended while people are talking".

Industrial action has disrupted many commuters and businesses in the capital, he said.

"I think it would help with goodwill all round and I think people would expect that while talks are underway, if they are making progress, that perhaps the strikes could be suspended.

"I think that would be a good idea."

SIPTU organiser Owen Reidy told Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show that planned strike action could still be averted. 

"That’s why engagement this afternoon is critical. I would like to think we could be in a position where that could happen," he said. 

"If [management] can demonstrate that they are [serious], and I can assure you we will demonstrate that we are, that might create the space where that can happen."

Earlier, in a statement, Dermot O'Leary of the NBRU said: "It won't be easy - it will be very, very difficult. People need to understand that.

"Getting into the WRC is the first stage of the process, that's not the end all and be all. You have to have something on the table before our members can consider it."