Bus Éireann strike looms despite calls for resolution

Pat Rabbitte: Hopes strike action can be avoided

Passengers face uncertainty over the potential levels of disruption from a national bus strike that could begin tomorrow morning.

Despite a call by Pat Rabbitte, the communications minister, for the strike threat by the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) to be lifted, there was no let-up in its dispute with Bus Éireann in sight last night.

The company insists it will from tomorrow push ahead with a series of cost-saving measures recommended by the Labour Court in February, but the union said any such move would trigger strike action.

Siptu and the Transport and Salaried Staffs’ Association are balloting members on the plans, but had voted in favour of action in relation to earlier cuts put forward by the Labour Relations Commission in January.

The company contests the validity of the NBRU action, which is planned with the backing of its own January ballot, because it said it had not had adequate notice of any disruptions.

The union is also balloting members on the Labour Court proposals now due to be implemented.

Bus Éireann typically carries 60,000 to 70,000 passengers a day.

It said anybody concerned about possible stoppages should check local and national media, or the Bus Éireann website.

“We are still open to talks with the unions right up to Sunday, but only if they put viable alternatives on the table that will provide €5m in savings,” said company spokesperson Andrew McLindon.

Michael Faherty, NBRU general secretary, said his members could not afford to keep taking cuts every time the company has financial difficulties.

Mr Rabbitte said he hoped unions can be persuaded that it is in nobody’s interest to have a major dispute, and that the company’s financial circumstances cannot be ignored.

The measures include changes to overtime rates, a three-hour increase in the working week for clerical staff, reduced shift and premium payments, and reduced annual leave.

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