The strike is expected to create chaos across the country with workers, students and patients disrupted as all services including Expressway, regional services, and city services such as those in Cork and Limerick grind to a halt.
The Friday strike will especially impact on pensioners who usually would pick up payments today as well as third-level students who travel home for the weekend.
However, unions have said the action will continue indefinitely. There are now concerns the strike could spread to Dublin Bus and Irish Rail as workers refuse to cross picket lines.
While school buses will run today, Siptu’s Willie Noone said this could change if the dispute is not solved. He said “emotions are high with colleagues in other CIÉ companies” and while Dublin Bus and Irish Rail workers have not been asked to go out they may do so in solidarity.
Businesses are set to be massively impacted with office workers left without transport; retailers also expect a drop in trade today and for as long as the strike continues.
Irish Rural Link said the short notice of the strike would particularly hit people living in remote areas who have no other method of transport to access health services or to travel to work, college and shops.
The rolling strike, which began at midnight, was announced after the representatives of the five Bus Éireann unions met yesterday to discuss the announcement by the company of a significant number of cost-cutting measures without union agreement.
The 46 measures outlined in a letter to staff include reductions in take-home pay, changes to conditions and the axing of some bus routes.