Both the National Bus and Rail Union and Siptu have made significant demands ahead of this latest round of talks at the WRC.
“One of the first items on our agenda will be a complete review of the managerial structure at Bus Éireann, inclusive of the salary levels associated with the roles of those who are leading the demand for our members to become more productive,” NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said.
He said the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority, needed to be part of the process and commit to working towards the establishment of a sectoral employment order, designed to protect all workers in the commercial bus industry.
He also said the NBRU remained opposed to the closure of routes and required “building blocks” such as a review of the commerciality of some Bus Éireann Expressway routes, the licensing regime, and the covering legislation.
“We have always indicated our willingness to engage on an efficiency based agenda, geared towards resolving the industrial relations issues, which of itself will contribute to an overall solution to the Bus Éireann Expressway crisis,” said Mr O’Leary.
“However it should be noted that we have been here before, management walking away on the previous two occasions. Staff have been suffering cuts to pay and conditions since January 16. Some of our members have been threatened with dismissal, an issue which will require to be addressed as a component of these discussions.”
Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said his members would not “start down a road that would see their terms and conditions of employment forced into line with those of the lowest paid workers in the transport sector”.
He said strikes would continue because some of his members had been dismissed from their jobs in recent days.
“To expect our members to return to work without resolving this situation or reversing the cuts that the company has already imposed on other workers is not reasonable or acceptable,” he said.
“Siptu is committed to achieving an outcome to this dispute which will underpin the survival of Bus Éireann as an employer which treats its workers fairly and with dignity,” he said.
For its part, the company said its financial situation continued to deteriorate, adding that achieving savings to remain solvent and sustain the business was now vital.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin has claimed the strike would have been resolved by now if it was directly affecting Dublin on a daily basis.
Speaking in the Dáil, he also claimed Dublin Bus is receiving 11 times as much state subvention support as Bus Éireann and said the Government is failing to help rural Ireland.
“The simple refrain across Ireland is that if this dispute was in Dublin, it would have been resolved a long time ago. That is the general sense in regional cities, rural towns and across the countryside and one which we encounter all the time,” he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government is doing all it can to help rural communities directly affected by the situation and defended Transport Minister Shane Ross’s decision not to intervene in the dispute.