The possibility of all-out strike action at Dublin Bus has moved another significant step closer after Siptu became the second large driver union to vote in favour of strike action.
The Siptu drivers voted 95% in favour of action over a pay dispute at the company. The drivers, who are members of the National Bus and Rail Union, have already said nothing short of strikes will be enough if the impasse continues.
Yesterday, Siptu said there was “the very real prospect of 24-hour and 48-hour stoppages and perhaps an indefinite strike at Dublin Bus.
“This result [of the ballot] demonstrates the determination of members to bring this pay dispute to a fair conclusion,” said the union’s divisional organiser, Owen Reidy.
“Drivers and other workers at the company have not had a pay increase for eight years, have suffered reductions in earnings over the recessionary period, and have been through three comprehensive restructurings during that time.
“The company returned to profitability in November 2014 and, over recent years, passenger numbers and revenue have increased accordingly. It is now past time for the pay of Dublin Bus workers to increase.”
He said the union was prepared to engage with management on issues of productivity in addition to a general wage round agreement.
“We would urge Dublin Bus to return to the bargaining table immediately to reach a new agreement,” he said. “We intend to meet with our members next week to discuss and plan a sustained campaign of action in order to reach a satisfactory outcome.”
All unions at the company submitted a pay claim of 15% over three years commencing from January 2016. They also agreed to seek a retrospective pay increase in lieu of the 6% from a previous national pay agreement that was deferred.
Siptu said improvements such as maintaining the link between pay and pensions and making shift pay reckonable for pension purposes in line with sister company, Irish Rail, are also being sought.
A Labour Court recommendation of 8.25% over three years has been rejected by staff.
The unions are unhappy that the court’s figure is below that which was recommended for Luas workers earlier this year.
Last night, the company issued a statement, in which it said: “Dublin Bus is extremely disappointed with the rejection of the Labour Court recommendation issued on July 19 by the majority of our employees.
“Dublin Bus has noted the outcome of the ballots and is available to engage with the trade unions with a view to seeking a way forward.
“We strongly urge employees not to engage in any action that will have a negative impact on our customers and the finances of the company.”
It is likely the positions taken by the unions at Dublin Bus could affect the talks process due to resume with Bus Éireann next month, with similar action potentially on the cards there.
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