Bus strike gets mayors' backing as shops suffer
TWO of Dublin's mayors have backed strike action by drivers who shut down the city's bus networks for two days.
Despite the inconvenience to commuters and losses to business, Dublin City Lord Mayor Christy Burke and the Mayor of South Dublin Fintan Warfield both said they haven't received any complaints from constituents about the drivers walking off the job.
Their support for the drivers, who are planning as many as five more days of strike action, comes as one business lobby group warned that losses to traders in the city could reach €20m.
Responding to the mayors' support, Richard Guiney of lobby group Dublin Town said it's "up to them to take that view" and pointed out that some retailers had reported a 60pc loss in business on Saturday, the second day of the strike.
Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann drivers who are members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu took the industrial action over the National Transport Authority plan to privatise 10pc of routes.
Independent councillor Mr Burke told the Herald that he continues to back the drivers.
"The general level of support from the public is very high," he insisted.
"I was in town on Saturday evening and the place was buzzing. All the restaurants were full," Mr Burke said.
However, he said it was time for all parties to resolve the conflict.
"It is in everyone's best interest to get this sorted," he said.
His south Dublin counterpart, Sinn Fein's Cllr Warfield, argued that the drivers - "despite their valued work" - are "being backed into a corner".
Last night there appeared to have been little movement on resolving the dispute.
NBRU boss Dermot O'Leary said "everything had gone quiet" and no further attempts at a resolution had been made.
He added that it was never the intention for strikes to affect the trade of businesses and said bus drivers are some of the city centre's best customers.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe last week made guarantees that drivers would not have to transfer to private companies under the tendering of selected routes.
Dublin Town chief executive Mr Guiney said "the time has come now to get everybody around the table to get this sorted".
"We'd like all parties to take a step back and look at the serious ramifications this will have on the general economy," he added.