Bus Éireann on brink of nationwide strike in pay cuts dispute

A nationwide bus strike by Bus Éireann staff is looking increasingly likely after unions said they would not attend talks on cutbacks which equate to a pay cuts of up to 30%.

Bus Éireann on brink of nationwide strike in pay cuts dispute

The company has written to unions to say it will go out of business if decisive steps are not taken to address its cost base and inefficiencies.

Financial measures include a reduction in the Sunday premium payment from 100% to 20%; rota and shift premium payments to be eliminated to “reflect competition”; overtime rates to be reduced to time and a quarter and double time for public holidays; and overall cuts of 10% in allowances.

The company also tells staff and unions to accept redeployment and changes to roles and responsibilities.

It says where positions are to be made redundant, it will “endeavour” to redeploy or achieve the required reductions on a voluntary basis but warns that where “meaningful” work is not available or staff refuse reasonable alternative work or redeployment, “they will be put on short time or lay off as appropriate”.

In exchange for all the changes it is seeking, the company is offering pay increase of between 1%-3% per annum over four years depending on level of income.

But it said that offer was subject to no “cost increasing claims” for the duration of the agreement, no strikes and full cooperation will all initiatives.

In his letter to the unions, acting Bus Éireann chief executive Ray Hernan invited them to a meeting next Tuesday to discuss what is proposed.

However, in return correspondence, National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary said the crisis was not of his members’ making but laid the blame at the doors of the Department of Transport, National Transport Authority, NTMA and the Department of Social Protection.

He rejected the invitation to talks and warned that his organisation would be consulting with its fellow unions to agree a coordinated response to any attempt to impose the changes unilaterally.

SIPTU sector organiser Willie Noone also said his members will not be accepting the proposals as sought “or as an apparent pre-condition to meeting with management”.

The unions also reminded the company that they already have a mandate for industrial action up to strike.

Mr Noone said the credibilty and motives of management had to be questioned when it was offering to pay some employees a rise of 1%, 2% or 3% when cash flow allowed, in return for them accepting a pay cut of up to 30% now.

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