Bus firms considers legal action against driver unions

Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus have not ruled out legal action over lost revenue against its drivers’ unions in spite of a deal that averted today’s 48-hour bus strike.

The companies filed a plenary summons with the High Court against Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union last week for the millions of euro in lost revenue from the two-day strike at the start of the month. As well as missing out on passenger fares, the companies face fines from the National Transport Authority for failing to provide services.

Last night, in a joint statement, the companies said: “Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus are reviewing our position in relation to the joint legal action for recovery of financial damages, which resulted from the recent two-day strike. No decision is imminent, and this will be considered over the coming weeks.”

Marathon talks at the Labour Relations Commission yielded enough agreement between driver unions, the National Transport Authority, the Department of Finance and the two companies to prevent, what could have been a further five days of strikes before the end of the month.

The main reason for the breakthrough was the assurances given to Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union, about their members’ terms and conditions.

Issues addressed included:

  • An assurance that no current employee will be required to compulsorily transfer to a new contractor when 10% of bus routes are put out to private tender in 2016;
  • The introduction of a Registered Employment Agreement which will protect bus workers’ terms and conditions of employment even if transferring to a private company;
  • A National Transport Authority agreement that tendering will be examined on the basis of the “most economically advantageous tender” and labour costs will not be “the sole criteria”.

However, while the Government reiterated its commitment not to put all public bus routes out to tender, it will still outsource of 10% of routes. Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said a process would be initiated “to look at concerns unions have in relation to this policy in the future”.

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