Ross says he has 'no money' to offer in Bus Éireann row

An indefinitene strike is set from March 6th

Ross says he has 'no money' to offer in Bus Éireann row

Transport Minister Shane Ross | Image:

There have been angry exchanges at the Oireachtas Transport Committee, where Transport Minister Shane Ross repeatedly refused to step into the Bus Éireann row.

Minister Ross says it is up to management and unions to resolve the crisis at the company.

Unions have promised an all-out, indefinite strike from Monday as the firm plans to implement pay cuts and avert insolvency.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD for Cork North Central, Mick Barry told Mr Ross: “You will become the first sole shareholder, possibly in history, to watch his company head towards insolvency – heading over a cliff – all the while proclaiming that there’s nothing that you can do.

“It’s happening on your watch, Minister, and where is the urgency?”, he asked.

Sinn Féin transport spokesperson Imelda Munster also questioned the minister’s actions, saying: “You’re still refusing - knowing full well the disruption and chaos it would cause along with the worry  for people living in our rural communities that services are going to be cut – you’re still refusing in the jaws of an all-out strike to get into negotiations”.

But Minister Ross said he had done as much as he could: “That is absolutely untrue – I’ve been extraordinarily active in this area.

“What I haven’t done is the one thing you’ve asked me to do – that doesn’t mean inaction.

“I see it as being a distraction and being seen as a signal that I’m going to come somehow into this industrial relations battle with money to offer: I don’t have money to offer” he said.

The minister's comments come after SIPTU and the NBRU announced an all-out strike from Monday.

The strike is in response to the company's planned cost saving measures.

The measures include three routes being cut and two more being scaled back.

Unions, meanwhile, have warned that the range of planned changes represent "far reaching and financially impactful measures" for employees.

Yesterday, the Unite union said that Minister Ross can still avert the planned strike action, saying the crisis at the embattled transport company is a "policy and a political crisis".

Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said: "He needs to get in the driving seat, convene talks between all stakeholders, and advocate for Bus Éireann and public transport at the Cabinet table.

"Otherwise, he will be remembered as the Minister who abandoned public transport and the rural communities which rely on it."

The National Bus and Rail Union accused the Minister of not caring about rural communities - warning that replacing Bus Éireann coaches with lesser services is "not good enough."

"It is the people in the big large urban centres that matter, people in rural Ireland don't really matter," said NBRU general secreatary Dermot O'Leary.

"Some people rely on a bus between Port Laoise and Cashel and they are squeezed into a 25-seater minibus."

"That is not good enough for the citizens of this state. They pay their taxes the same as we all do."