WITH Dublin plagued by a series of bitter public transport strikes staged by Dublin Bus, which is grinding the city to a halt with depressing regularity, it would be an industrial relations miracle if other towns and cities did not become mired in the same morass.
A leap-frog process initiated by trade unions has been prolonged by the failure of management to engage around the table because the coffers of loss-making state-owned companies are empty.
Hopes of some kind of engagement were dashed by yesterday’s bombshell announcement from its sister company, Bus Éireann, unveiling plans to separate the leaking Expressway service from the rest of the company. It also informed workers on the intercity routes that it is thinking about changing their terms and conditions. Meanwhile, Transport Minister Shane Ross has rightly stayed on the sidelines, refusing to appear on the proverbial ‘white horse’.
To date, the unions have enjoyed a measure of public support but this will evaporate if the toxic atmosphere between Bus Éireann workers and management over pay demands were to spread throughout the countrywide bus network where members have already balloted for industrial action. Sooner or later, this scenario will be resolved. As for the jaundiced public which has been shamefully used in an outrageous game of blackmail, the sooner more realistic pay demands are put on the negotiating table the better.
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