Thousands to be hit as indefinite bus strike looms

Hundreds of thousands of commuters are set to be left without a bus service from next week as workers stage an all-out strike.

Bus Éireann unions announced the indefinite strike, which will impact on services across the country, after management outlined a serious of cuts.

Bus services will not run from Monday, the same day as Bus Éireann rolls out 55 cost-saving measures which it said would bring “immediate” reductions.

In a letter to staff, Bus Éireann chief executive Ray Hernan admitted there would be job losses, that three routes would be axed, and others would see a reduction in services.

The X7 Dublin-Clonmel service will be cut from March 12; the 21 Athlone-Westport service will no longer operate from April 16; and the 33 Dublin-Derry route will cease from May 28.

“The number of daily services on Dublin-Limerick (X12), and Dublin-Galway (20/X20) will be reduced from March 12,” wrote Mr Hernan. “Any staff impacted by these announcements will be redeployed.”

He said the work practices outlined are an “initial step” and further measures, involving changes to terms and conditions, are “essential”.

Siptu’s Willie Noone said members were “amazed” at the attitude displayed in the Bus Éireann letter to staff.

He said: “The measures concerning changes to the conditions of employment of workers are notable in that they target driver grades, in particular.

“In contrast, it would seem that the company does not see any role to be played by managerial grades in this cost-cutting exercise.

“Issues such as the sub-contracting of services and the redeployment of staff, which are stated without any detail on how they will be implemented, will not be accepted.”

National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary said: “The fact is that, by informing staff that they are going to introduce ‘far-reaching and financially impactful’ measures from next Monday, without agreement, Bus Éireann has left us with no option but to inform the company that we will reactivate our previously notified strike action to coincide with the implem-entation of these measures.”

Bus Éireann previously warned it could be insolvent by May and must make around €30m in savings, including €12m of payroll cuts.

Talks between both sides at the Workplace Relations Commission collapsed last week. Last night, Bus Éireann said that “further dialogue aimed at urgently resolving these challenges would be welcome”.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Shane Ross welcomed Bus Éireann’s willingness to undertake further discussions and again “encourages the employer and employees to engage urgently in a constructive manner. This is necessary to resolve this difficult industrial relations situation, which threatens to greatly inconvenience the travelling public, especially those in rural Ireland.”

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