Last-minute deal to stop strike possible, Bus Eireann claims
An 11th-hour deal to avert bus strike action may be possible if workers re-enter negotiations with management, the chief executive of Bus Eireann has said.
Failure to broker a deal will have "dire financial consequences" for the company, and spark widespread public anger, Martin Nolan warned.
Drivers at Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann have planned a series of strikes in May over the privatisation of routes.
Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union are planning to hold two 48-hour stoppages starting tomorrow and Saturday - the start of the bank holiday weekend - as well as 15 and 16 May.
They are also planning a three-day strike on May 29, 30 and 31.
However, Mr Nolan insisted the company is making "every effort" to resolve the dispute and stop the strike.
Speaking before the Oireachtas Transport Committee, he said efforts are continuing behind the scenes to get all sides back round the negotiating table.
He also reiterated that no staff will be forced to transfer to private sector operators when 10pc of bus routes are put out to private tender.
Terms and conditions of employment for existing staff will be protected, he added.
"This weekend is one of our busiest of the year. The strike action will have dire financial consequences for our company and Dublin Bus."
He said there is a need to go back into the Labour Relations Commission and pursue further negotiations.
"We just need to get back around the table - I know there is a lot of work going on to get that to happen. But if we go out and strike, I think the public sympathy will disappear fairly quickly.
"We'll be fighting up to the last minute to keep people inside working."
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said he made "substantial intervention" in the dispute.
"If a worker does not wish to transfer, there's no issue (with pensions). I have provided the basis for substantial engagement with the LRC. Because of that, I believe there is no basis for industrial action."
NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary told the Herald the union would be prepared to re-enter negotiations in the Labour Relations Commission.
Asked if he believed a last-minute decision to call off strike action is possible, he said: "I don't know. I just do realism - I work on the basis that there's a dispute and it needs to be resolved."
Iarnrod Eireann has advised customers that there will be revised schedules on a number of routes across the weekend, from Saturday to Monday inclusive.