Unions preparing for "mother of all public transport disputes"

The NBRU has warned that it will be “extremely difficult if not nigh on impossible” to find a resolution to the Bus Éireann dispute before Monday

One of the main unions representing staff at Bus Éireann has advised its members to prepare for “the mother of all public transport disputes.”

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has warned that the time-frame for a resolution to the dispute at the company is “fast approaching the point of no return.”

The NBRU and SIPTU are due to go on an indefinite strike from Monday – potentially affecting more than 100,000 passengers each day.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said it will be “extremely difficult if not nigh on impossible” to find a resolution between now and Sunday night given the complexities of the dispute.

Confirmation of the strike action came after the company approved proposals for “immediate cost savings” – due to be implemented from Monday.

Unions have insisted the cuts would amount to significant losses to workers and have accused the company of “engaging in a race to the bottom.”

Mr O’Leary said unions are happy to engage with the company on issues of efficiency and work practices, “as a building block towards an overall solution” but warned they will not accepts the proposed cuts.

“It appears that Bus Éireann are determined to make a solution unattainable, given both its actions to-date, by imposing financial sanctions without agreement and setting the bar too high in terms of what it is they are seeking to achieve,” he said.

He said members had already been “burned” by accepting two cost-cutting plans over the last seven years in an attempt to place the company on a secure financial footing.

“We have today advised our members that they should put themselves on a war footing and be prepared for what will inevitably be the mother of all public transport disputes,” he said.