There has been a threat of industrial action as the National Transport Authority (NTA) announced the potential privatisation of an additional 10% of State-owned bus routes.
The NTA revealed this morning that it intends to tender out 10% of Bus Éireann routes.
Bus Éireann has noted today’s announcement by the NTA on new proposals for the Direct Award Contracts for public bus services from December 2019 next.
"The company will participate positively in the consultation process and will determinedly focus on retaining any routes currently operated, and which may be subject to further tender," it said in a statement.
We recognise that both competitiveness and service quality are critical to future growth and success.
"In this respect, we welcome that it has been acknowledged by the NTA that our business transformation - which commenced over 12 months ago - has now helped us to achieve competitiveness on price."
The National Bus & Rail Union (NBRU) criticised the move to "aggressively attack semi-state jobs" and said it will oppose the tender.
"The announcement by the NTA this morning of its intention to tender out 10% of Bus Éireann routes and the privatisation of State jobs is something that will be vigorously opposed by the NBRU," said General Secretary Dermot O’Leary.
"The determination of the NTA, supported by the Thatcherite ideology of the Fine Gael led Government, to aggressively attack semi-state jobs cannot be allowed to go unchallenged by those from across the political spectrum that profess to oppose the privatisation of State services.
"Handing over millions of taxpayers money to private Corporations whilst at the same time paying workers a pittance is nothing less than a State-supported race to the bottom”
What is particularly galling here is the fact that the decision makers themselves are well padded from the harsh realities of having to eke out a living in 21st century Ireland.
"Allowing large multinationals to compete with State-owned companies on labour costs, paying bus drivers €32,000 or less, whilst at the same time paying its shareholders massive dividends is odious and is something that the vast majority of our elected politicians need to oppose.
"Forcing a significant amount of these workers to seek family supports and turn to State for housing that doesn’t exist, for income support to enable them to school and clothe their children is nothing short of immoral.
"The timelines associated with the NTA public consultation process conjures up the spectre of disputes in the public transport network across the winter and spring months."