Friday, February 17, 2017

Update 4.15pm: Talks between unions and management to avoid strike action at Bus Éireann have adjourned for the day.

Bus Éireann says it has to make savings of €30m to remain in business, but unions have accused the company of trying to become a low-wage operator.

Monday’s strike was suspended pending talks and following a decision by the company not to implement pay cuts.

They told management they cannot accept unilateral cuts.

“The cuts are not happening Monday, which is good news for the travelling public and, indeed, our members,” said Siptu’s Greg Ennis. “The company are now going back to reflect on what we put to them today, and we left them absolutely clear as to what our position is.

“The ball is now in the company’s court and back to us on Monday with considerations of those matters.”

Update 3pm: Unions at Bus Éireann fear the company is seeking to become a low-wage operator to compete with private bus companies.

The union members have suspended their strike pending three days of negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Bus Éireann wants to make savings of €30m a year, with 40% of the savings on payroll.

“We will not negotiate a reduction of terms and conditions for our members in order to plug initially a gap in the company’s finances. We’re having difficulty understanding the full picture here,” said general secretary of the NBRU Dermot O’Leary (pictured).

“We need to dig deep into that figure because we have our suspicions in relation to what that figure actually amounts to and where it’s coming from.

“We feel the comany is actually positioning themselves for a future tendering process and trying to become competitive with the low-wage operator that are out there.

“This is not, we feel, strictly about Expressway, this goes beyond Expressway and again we’re going to ask some hard questions this morning in relation to that.”

Siptu’s Greg Ennis says the members are willing to make a deal.

We’re up for a deal,” says Siptu’s Greg Ennis. “Whether it’s achievable or not is debatable.

“There’s a number of players not represented here: the Department, the National Transport Authority, for example, and possibly the Department of Social Protection. So without all of the protagonists it’s going to be extremely difficult to resolve this dispute over the next three days.

Earlier: Unions at Bus Éireann will engage in new talks at the Workplace Relations Commission today after agreeing to call off Monday’s planned strike.

The company also agreed to put their threatened cost cutting plans on hold.

The NBRU’s Dermot O’Leary says they are committed to the talks, but it will not be easy to find a solution without input from the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport.

Mr O’Leary said: “The commission asked both parties to pull back from the brink and asked the company not to implement the unilateral pay cuts from next Monday and by extension they have asked us to suspend our strike, which we have done.

“That allows us to get into the WRC this morning for those discussions.

“I suppose I am by nature an optimist, but I have to forewarn people the issues at the core of this dispute are difficult, it will not be easy to resolve this in the absence of the other stakeholders, that’s the Department of Transport, the national transport authority.”

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