Unions preparing for "protracted" Bus Éireann strike

SIPTU has begun delivering placards and other strike materials to union offices around the country

Unions preparing for "protracted" Bus Éireann strike

Bus Eireann buses pictured in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Commuters are facing travel chaos after SIPTU told its members at Bus Eireann to prepare for “protracted” strike action.

The union also called on its members to support a political campaign targeting rural TDs who it claimed are “propping up a government which is intent on destroying the public bus transport system in their own constituencies.”

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has consistently pledged to ensure that rural connectivity is protected if both Bus Éireann and private networks are unable to keep services in place.

Talks between unions and Bus Éireann management collapsed at the Workplace Relations Commission on Wednesday.

In a statement this evening, the trade union said strikes now look inevitable.

It has now begun sending placards from its Liberty Hall headquarters in Dublin and to union offices right around the country.

Union bosses has also hit out at what they claim is “inertia” by the Transport Minister, the National Transport Authority and rural TDs - whom they accuse of going to ground.

SIPTU sector organiser Willie Noone said unions have no choice but to be prepared for what they believe is coming next from the company:

“The company is obviously preparing now for a strike situation and our members have contacted us to know are we prepared for the action,” he said.

“So, we didn’t want to be provocative but at this stage we have no choice but to actually prepare for the battle.”

“We have the placards put in place; all the paraphernalia that goes with having a strike is now being put in place.”

School bus drivers

All SIPTU members at Bus Éireann will participate in the strike action and take part in pickets, with the exception of school bus drivers.

School drivers are not currently involved in the dispute and have yet to be balloted on strike or industrial action.

The union said the situation is under constant review.

On Monday, the company released a discussion document in which it said its financial situation is worsening with losses for 2016 now estimated at €9.4m.

Unions then put their members on notice that they would immediately engage in strike action if the company moves forward with plans to introduce €12m cuts to workers earnings.

Threat strike action could spread

They have also warned that the strike action could spread to other parts of the State’s public transport sector.

“Our members are prepared for the attack on Bus Éireann,” said Mr Noone. “They understand that a similar onslaught on wages and conditions will follow at the other public transport companies in the CIE Group.”

“These attacks must be thwarted, because to fail to do so would undermine decades of work by SIPTU members to build efficient and effective transport companies which provide a decent days pay for a decent day’s work which allow them to support their families in difficulty.”

Bus Éireann has yet to indicate whether it will move forward with pay cuts – with management “considering and finalising several options to address the financial solvency of the company.”