'Passenger threatened me with an imitation gun', says striking driver
Dublin Bus drivers are living in fear of violent assaults and attacks on their vehicles, a striking driver has claimed.
Maurice Coen (47) from Kilmainham, said he has been threatened numerous times during his 18 years as a Dublin Bus driver and was out from work for three months following a particularly violent incident.
"Drivers can have a lot to endure when it comes to bad behaviour," he told the Herald.
"Drivers are threatened and bricks are thrown at buses."
Mr Coen said a passenger threatened him with an imitation firearm on the bus one night. The gardai had boarded his bus earlier because they had been tipped off that someone was threatening to launch an attack.
But when no attack happened, the gardai left the bus. Shortly afterwards, a drunk man on the bus produced an imitation firearm. He then threatened the bus driver as he drove along the streets.
Mr Coen managed to press a panic button and summon help and gardai removed the man from his bus.
"I had to attend counselling and was out from work for three months. On my first day back, the man appeared at a bus stop and I had to allow him to travel," he said.
He said the same man later threw a snooker ball at his bus and shattered a window.
"A lot of people just don't understand the stresses involved in bus driving," he said.
This comes as his fellow bus drivers insisted they had "no choice" but to strike because talking over the past year did not succeed in getting them the pay increase they feel they deserve.
Placard-holding drivers said they have been coping with financial pressures with no pay increases for eight years while working in an increasingly stressful job.
"I'll stay on strike until Christmas if I have to," said Noeleen Byrne (57) from Clondalkin who has been bus driving for 22 years.
"I feel very strongly about this. We're well overdue for a pay rise. We didn't just get no increase since 2008. In fact, they cut our pay in 2008 and gave us more work to do."
She stood with dozens of drivers outside the locked gates of the Conyngham Road depot yesterday where large numbers of double-deckers remained parked in long rows.
Father-of-three Dan Delaney (50) from Monasterevin, Co Kildare, has been driving buses for 18 years.
"It's stressful driving a 12-tonne vehicle and being ready to stop that size of vehicle. It's not as easy as you think," he said.
Ray Kelch (48) from Ballyfermot, Dublin, has been driving buses on his local routes for 19 years and said passengers have been supportive of strike plans.
A SIPTU shop stewart, he said: "Back in 2008, we were owed a 6pc pay increase which the company reneged on. We took part in two cost-cutting plans since them.
"We helped bring the company back to profitability. They promised they would give us the deferred increase when they made a profit but they didn't.
"We apologise to the public for the inconvenience but we've no choice but to strike," he added.