Strike inflicting 'untold damage' on city business, says Taoiseach
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned that "untold damage" is being inflicted on the capital's businesses by the Dublin Bus strikes.
Mr Kenny ruled out any direct Government intervention to help end the escalating pay dispute and appealed to workers and management to resume face-to-face talks.
His plea came as unions prepared for three more days of commuter chaos next week with strikes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday - the day of the All-Ireland football final replay.
The strikes have so far cost Dublin Bus more than €4m and caused misery for hundreds of thousands of people.
Mr Kenny said management and unions will have to negotiate to agree a compromise as the prospect of strike action also loomed at Bus Eireann over proposals to hive-off the loss-making Expressway operation.
The Taoiseach acknowledged that the Dublin Bus dispute was potentially catastrophic for the city's traders and workers.
"It's necessary that both sides sit down and discuss their differences here," he said.
"This is a very sensitive time in Ireland as we approach a major retailing period.
"This will do untold damage to the economy of Dublin and the retail sector of Dublin.
"It inconveniences hundreds of thousands of people and it imposes serious difficulties on the company and serious difficulties for the workers."
"The taxpayer has given a subvention to the CIE group in general of about €230m this year," he said.
The Taoiseach also defended under-fire Transport minister Shane Ross.
"The minister has expressed on a number of occasions that he is not in a position to end this strike but he is a position to encourage people to sit down and think about the difficulties for workers, for the economic state of the companies and for the inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of people," he said.
"They should think about the destructive nature of this on the economy of Dublin and the retail sector."
His comments came as business association Dublin Town warned that this weekend could hit businesses worse than previous stoppages.
"I think when we look at the numbers we will be down and we will be down a significant amount," CEO of Dublin Town, Richard Guiney told Newstalk.
"I know from speaking to a number of retailers that they're seriously putting on hold now their Christmas recruitment."
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation brought around 70 nurses to join the Dublin Bus workers on the picket line at the Summerhill garage in a show of solidarity.
Meanwhile, Transport minister Shane Ross denied he conveyed any agreement to a Bus Eireann plan to restructure its loss-making Expressway bus service with planned reduction in staff pay and conditions.
Staff at the bus company will be balloted and poised for strike action if changes announced this week come into effect. Bus Eireann top management were reported to have briefed the minister a fortnight ago and the minister reportedly raised no objection.
A minister's spokeswoman told RTE the minister "did not convey any agreement whatsoever".