Bus passengers in Cork are bracing for pre-Christmas disruption after bus drivers voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.
The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said in the wake of the 93% vote last Thursday by some 85% of its 340-members at the Capwell depot in favour of industrial action, it is now engaged in a process to determine the form of that action.
NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said the outcome of that process will be communicated to management and the travelling public early next week. But he insisted that the withdrawal of bus services is not on the union’s agenda at this stage.
“It is not our intention to stop buses. Our target, our focus here is, with the assistance of company management in Dublin, to repair the damaged relations caused by local management in Cork over a series of issues,” he said.
It is understood that the initial industrial action may impact the pre-trip check procedure which must be followed before buses are cleared to leave the Capwell depot early each morning.
Drivers have previously raised concerns about how capacity problems at Capwell have impacted on these pre-trip checks.
If they focus on this issue in the initial stages of the industrial action, it is expected that the departure of buses from the depot could be delayed, throwing the timetable of several services into chaos.
Last week’s ballot for industrial action was sanctioned in response to the disciplining of a union rep who spoke out on local radio after a female bus driver on the country’s first 24-hour bus service, the 220 Ballincollig to Carrigaline service, was threatened with rape on Halloween night.
The rep was highly critical of local Bus Eireann management’s response to this and to other issues of concern to drivers.
Meanwhile, Bus Eireann has announced the introduction this weekend of late-night weekend services on two routes from Cork to Midleton and Blarney.
The 261 route will operate with a pick-up outside the Savoy on St Patrick’s St and will travel via Mayfield, Glanmire, Glounthane, Carrigtwohill and Midleton, at 1am, 2am and 3am each Friday and Saturday until December 21.
The 215 route will operate with a pick-up outside Eason’s on St Patrick’s St, and will travel via Blackpool, Churchfield, Farranree, Killeens, Blarney, and Cloghroe, at the same times on the same nights until December 21.