herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

Chaos looms as bus workers to picket over privatisation

DISPUTE

Paschal Donoghoe
Paschal Donoghoe

There will be chaos for commuters on May 1, as bus drivers plan a two hour strike.

And, senior sources have indicated they may "ramp it up" to a full of day of action closer to time, despite receiving a warning from bus companies and Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe last night.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) announced plans for their members at both Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann to participate in a two-hour work stoppage demonstration on May 1, the Friday ahead of the May Bank Holiday weekend, from 11am to 1pm.

Marches will be held around the country, with the biggest one likely in Dublin.

Siptu said their members will consider issuing a notice of "substantial industrial action" to both companies if "their concerns have not been adequately addressed at meetings with other stakeholders" by next Friday, April 24.

Both trade unions recently balloted their members on industrial action at the two State-owned companies, and drivers voted overwhelmingly in favour of action.

READ MORE: Dan White: Hitting public by targeting bank holiday is an own goal that will haunt bus unions

This long-running dispute stems from opposition to Government plans to privatise 10pc of bus routes which are currently being operated by Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus.

They have agreed to open up some routes to a tendering process in order to comply with EU directives.

Both Siptu and the NBRU withdrew from negotiations with the companies, the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport at the Labour Relations Commission last month.

NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary defended their decision to withdraw from the discussion and said their main concerns revolve around job securities and fears that further routes will be privatised in the future.

READ MORE: 'I'd rather take the day off than plan alternative route to work'

Dublin Bus last night said they are "strongly urging the trade unions not to take any action that could have a negative impact on customers", while Bus Eireann described the decision as "regrettable".

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe renewed his commitment to opening 10pc of routes up to public tender and said both companies are eligible to compete in the process.

"It is disappointing that the NBRU and Siptu withdrew from discussions being facilitated by the Labour Relations Commission," he added.

"These discussions had been aimed at addressing employee concerns about how the tendering of 10pc of routes might impact them."

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