Dublin Bus staff are to vote on a deal brokered by the Workplace Relations Commission which would see their pay packet rise by 11.25% over the next three years.
The potential breakthrough in the dispute, which emerged after 30 hours of talks between management and unions, has seen the remaining 11 planned days of industrial action suspended at least until the staff are balloted on the terms.
The pay element of the deal falls almost exactly between the increases that had been sought by the two sides — the company had wanted to implement the 8.25% rise over three years recommended by the Labour Court. The unions, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), had been looking for 15% over the same time period.
The increases are broken down into 3.75% backdated to January 1 of this year; a further 3.75% with effect from January 1, 2017; and a further 3.75% from January 1, 2018.
What will be particularly welcome to the drivers will be a job evaluation scheme comparing their roles and those of Luas drivers. Bus unions have argued that the terms and conditions of their members have fallen behind those of their counterparts in the light rail system.
The evaluation process is to be carried out by a mutually agreed independent expert, will have a definitive conclusion date and, according to the recommendation document, will have its outcome considered by “all relevant stakeholders”.
The document also says the company has identified potential productivity measures “that have the capacity to achieve savings and accordingly to achieve improvements in pay terms and conditions of employment”.
“The company will engage with the trade unions on productivity bargaining on a grade by grade basis,” says the document.
Non-pay elements include a new drug and alcohol policy which will see all employees tested “post accident, for cause and randomly”. 5% of employees will be tested in any given year.
“Lean management” processes will also be rolled out to improve operations.
The deal requires the unions to agree to new schedule changes which will be implemented “on week six of the process without negotiation”.
“Any refusal to fully engage in this process will be deemed to be a breach of this agreement and a rejection of the proposed schedule,” the document says.
NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said unions believed the proposals “are at the optimum that can be achieved at this time”.
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