Dublin could face traffic chaos after two trade unions sounded a warning over three 48-hour work stoppages on the network next month.
The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) issued a letter yesterday to the HR manager at Dublin Bus stating that “in the absence of an improved offer on pay that the NBRU will initiate a series of work stoppages through the month of September”.
Describing the action as “regrettable”, NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary told Dublin Bus that it was “on notice” regarding the strike action, scheduled for September 8 and 9, September 15 and 16, and September 23 and 24.
The other trade union representing staff in the company, Siptu, said its members would also be taking part in the work stoppages on those dates, having endured a long period of “pay stagnation” which, it said, had to be addressed through a level of backpay and a 15% pay increase spread over three years.
A recent Labour Court decision recommended a cost-of-living pay increase for each employee of 2.75% per year over a three-year term, but this was comprehensively rejected by members of both trade unions. In a statement, Dublin Bus said it was “extremely disappointed” at the rejection of the Labour Court recommendation and the news that strike action was planned in September.
“Dublin Bus management will now arrange to meet with the joint trade union group to outline the company’s position, to discuss the issues in dispute and to seek a way forward to avert industrial action,” it said. “Any form of industrial action can only have a negative impact on our company and will inconvenience our customers. It has the potential to undo the financial stability achieved in recent years.”
The company said it would do its best to try and avert any strike action, which it said would affect more than 400,000 passengers and result in an estimated daily loss of revenue of €600,000.
However, Siptu Transport, Energy, Aviation and Construction Division organiser Owen Reidy said the “chronic” underfunding of Dublin Bus by the state was a huge factor in any difficulties experienced by the company and that workers would no longer allow pay to “stagnate” to subsidise that underfunding.
He said Siptu’s 1,700 members in Dublin Bus had rejected the recent Labour Court recommendation as it did not go far enough to addressing their concerns, telling the Today with Sean O’Rourke programme on RTÉ: “I think what you are seeing now is a pent-up frustration after eight years of pay stagnation.
“They feel they have to take this action albeit it is unfortunate because it is going to cause chaos.”
A spokesperson for Transport Minister Shane Ross said: “The minister welcomes this morning’s statement by Dublin Bus that it will now arrange to meet the joint trade union group to seek a way forward to avoid escalation of this dispute.”
Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Robert Troy said he feared any industrial action as outlined by Dublin Bus workers would lead to “gridlock”.
“These strikes will cause serious hardship for the people who rely on Dublin Bus services, and will have a particular impact on commuters and older people,” he said. “The strike will have a knock-on effect on other transport services and will lead to gridlock in the capital. Students will also be hit hard as they are currently in the process of returning to their schools and colleges.”
Mr Troy also criticised the minister’s “hands-off” approach to the dispute and said there was still time to prevent the strike from taking place.
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