Bus strike to go ahead despite Donohoe assurances over jobs
Assurances by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe that bus drivers will not be forced to transfer to private operators once 10pc of their routes are put out for tender are not enough to stop planned bus strikes, according to unions.
As the strikes by Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann loom, Mr Donohoe announced fresh commitments surrounding the employment terms of bus drivers in his latest attempt to avert the action by Siptu and National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU) members.
He said there had been concern that workers could lose their jobs or have their employment terms diminished if private operators successfully secured contracts for the tendered routes, but he wanted to reassure workers about their job security.
READ MORE: Commuters warned of bus strike traffic chaos
The first phase of industrial action is scheduled to take place this Friday and Saturday, the start of the May bank holiday weekend.
Two further strike days are being planned on May 15 and 16, with the possibility of three days of action at the end of May.
Speaking at Leinster House yesterday, Mr Donohoe said the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) is ready to be used to discuss the latest proposals.
"This commitment would mean that there is absolutely no threat to the security of tenure or the terms and conditions of the current members of Siptu or the NBRU arising from the tender process," he said.
"There is, therefore, no basis for industrial action by either union against the companies."
But the general secretary of the NBRU, Dermot O'Leary, said the statement by the minister gave no assurances on his members' concerns regarding potential privatisation down the line.
He has warned that the approach being taken by the Government could result in both Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus "no longer existing" after 2019 because of changes in legislation that could allow for privatisation beyond the current proposed level of 10pc.
"The minister has been out over the last week-and-a-half making incremental contributions apparently with a view towards addressing the fundamental issues involved here," said Mr O'Leary.
"While it is to be welcome that he is prepared to acknow- ledge some of our members' concerns, he needs to move towards turning all this positivity into a workable solution which will not alone address the issues he has addressed today but also those that concern the future of both bus companies and the CIE Group as a whole.
"I'm not going in to the LRC and being held up to ridicule on the basis that the issues in relation to 2019 are not going to be sorted out."
Siptu's Owen Reidy echoed the views of the NBRU.
"Obviously, we hope the dispute doesn't go ahead, but we don't want to mislead passengers," he said.
"We don't see the basis of calling off this dispute at this moment in time."