herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Chaos looms as bus drivers set to strike on Sunday

Bus stop at The Jobstown Inn in Tallaght. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Bus stop at The Jobstown Inn in Tallaght. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

COMMUTERS in the capital – including Oxegen revellers – face travel chaos from Sunday as Dublin Bus drivers threaten to bring the network to a standstill.

An all-out strike is on the cards for Sunday as drivers are planning a protest over cost-cutting measures.

Dublin Bus said that it would not be able to provide a contingency plan if the strike is rolled out – ultimately affecting those heading to Oxegen festival at Punchestown this weekend.

And there are fears it could have a knock-on affect for commuters from Monday.

But the bus company says it has to save nearly €12m to return to financial stability, and its plan has the backing of the Labour Court.

Both sides spent 14 months negotiating the cost-cutting and productivity measures with unions, and the cuts are unavoidable, Dublin Bus said.

SIPTU and National Bus and Rail Workers Union (NBRU) drivers served strike notice on the company when they learned of plans to introduce the cuts from this weekend.

"This cost-reduction plan is on the back of a 2009 one where bus drivers suffered a reduction in overtime as their working week was restricted to 40 hours instead of a maximum of 50," Dermot O'Leary, assistant general secretary of the NBRU, told the Herald.

Hit

"We took the hit then and now Dublin Bus are looking for more from the same well and overtime is affected again."

Mr O'Leary said his union had asked management at Dublin Bus if they were doing anything proportionate to reduce costs.

"We have had no evidence presented to us yet that they have," he said.

Mr O'Leary blamed a cut in Government subvention, a revenue drop from falling passenger numbers and rising fuel prices for Dublin Bus's financial troubles.

"None of that can be controlled or influenced by our drivers, so why are we taking the hit?" he asked.

"The last thing we want is to inconvenience the public, but we got just five days' notice that these measures were being introduced," Mr O'Leary added.

Dublin Bus today said it cannot provide a service if the strike action goes ahead, and urged bus drivers to reconsider.

It is understood a weekday of strike action would cost Dublin Bus in the region of €600,000, while a Sunday is estimated to be less than that.

A spokeswoman for Dublin Bus said that all previous cuts had achieved savings without affecting workers' pay.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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