Saturday 22 October 2016

Commuters face chaos as Dublin Bus drivers cripple city in pay row

Traffic outside Connolly Station
Traffic outside Connolly Station

Commuter chaos hit the city again today as Dublin Bus workers began two more days of strike action.

Despite the traffic congestion in the city, however, Transport minister Shane Ross has again ruled out opening the bus lanes in the capital to private drivers.

A spokesman for the minister said the advice from the National Transport Authority (NTA) was that the lanes had to remain operational even though the majority of buses will be off the road.

Services will not resume in the capital until Sunday.

By then the company has said they will be in a loss-making position for 2016.

"Dublin Bus has come through an extremely tough financial period in recent years due to the recession and has only just reached a stable financial footing," a spokeswoman said.


"We have a responsibility to our employees and to the taxpayer to manage our finances to safeguard the economic and financial stability of the company."

To date, strikes have cost the company €4m and stoppages today and tomorrow will cost an additional €2m, the spokeswoman added.

The remaining planned strikes will have a "catastrophic impact" on the company's financial position, she said.

Thirteen more days of strike action are planned, including on the All Ireland replay date next Saturday, October 1.

Last night, the company said it remained open to talks but added that the 15pc increase sought by drivers is not affordable.

Dermot O'Leary of the Nationial Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU) said there has been "no change" to plans to strike on a number of days over the coming weeks.

He also criticised the Transport minister for his comments made earlier this week.

Mr Ross told a Dail committee this week that he will not act as a "Sugar Daddy" to end the dispute.

"I've said that I'm not going to produce the cheque book" he said.

"They cannot expect me, in a public or a private forum, to be some sort of Sugar Daddy who is going to rescue either of them out of a difficult situation."

In a statement last night the NBRU said it was "quite extraordinary" that a shareholder would "come out so publicly and chastise its own company".

Meanwhile, Siptu workers at Bus Eireann are due to be balloted for potential strike action in a protective ballot this month.

The ballot means staff will decide whether to strike if changes are introduced to the Expressway services.

The possibility of changes was raised by management this week despite an ongoing pay claim by workers.

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