No Labour Court bid to end bus dispute

Bus Éireann and its unions are no closer to resolving how to find essential cost savings at the company after the Labour Court refused to intervene in the dispute.

No Labour Court bid to end bus dispute

Today the company’s acting chief executive, Ray Hernan, will tell members of the Oireachtas Transport Committee that anticipated losses of up to €9m in 2016 will mean its total reserves will be depleted to €7m, “less than one year’s reserves at the current run rate of losses”.

“To do nothing would mean all of the company, not just Expressway, will go out of business and, as a consequence, all jobs will be lost,” he will tell the committee.

“This is not scaremongering; this is stark reality of what this organisation now faces.”

The company had sought a hearing at the Labour Court after unions overwhelmingly rejected cost saving proposals which, they argued, would have meant cuts to their members’ earnings of up to 30% through reductions in premium and overtime payments and other allowances — the company proposals also included a 2% average raise to basic pay.

The sides had already been at the Labour Court on December 6 to discuss a pay claim by the unions in excess of 20%. The company said the court indicated at that point that it could not deal with that claim until a “more detailed plan” was made available by the company.

“Bus Éireann have now submitted detailed proposals to the unions with the objective of dealing with the unions claim for a wage increase within the context of overcoming an urgent financial crisis and ensuring future sustainability,” it said before yesterday’s Labour Court hearing.

“Bus Éireann management is seeking the assistance of the Labour Court and to reconvene.”

When the invitation to the court emerged yesterday afternoon the unions quickly made it clear that while they would attend, they would not discuss the company’s cost-savings proposal document.

After a very short hearing in which the sides met separately with the court, Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union said the court indicated it saw no viability in reinvigorating the process on the December 6 pay claim.

“This afternoon demonstrates quite clearly that the new management lacks knowledge of how the industrial machinery operates,” he said.

Mr O’Leary said his union would not attend any discussions with the company while its cost-savings document remained active.

Siptu said it only engaged with the Labour Court “to assist its investigation into why the company has requested its intervention at this stage”.

“The process concluded with all parties agreeing there was no benefit in re-engaging on the claim that was before the Labour Court hearing on December 6,” said Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone.

Trade unions at the company are due to meet tomorrow to seek to agree a co-ordinated approach to the cost savings measures sought by management.

They have made it clear already that they have a mandate for strike action which they will activate if the company makes any attempt to impose the cutbacks.

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