'This will go on for as long as it takes. We're in it for the long haul'
DUBLIN BUS drivers are sorry for causing travel chaos but vowed to remain on strike until the pay row is resolved.
Workers said they are prepared for a protracted dispute.
Chief among their grievances is a move by management to cut premium pay for working overtime. In addition, Dublin Bus wants to be able to reduce lunch breaks by 10 minutes.
Another cost-saving measure would involve clawing back 'travelling time' – the time it takes for drivers to get from their depot to the start of their route.
The 15-minute period is taken as part of the working day, even though most employees are no longer required to go to their depot before starting their shift.
Dublin Bus has said proposed savings of €11.7m have to be made. The strike will cost the company €600,000 for each working day lost, it added.
Dermot O'Leary, assistant general secretary of the National Bus & Rail Union (NBRU) – one of five unions, including SIPTU, involved in the strike – said overtime is an important element of many drivers' salaries. More than half of the NBRU's 1,165 members have worked extra hours at some stage.
Richard Guiney, chief executive of Dublin City Business Improvement District, said: "Footfall in the city has experienced a second year-on-year increase but with 42pc of shoppers accessing the city by bus, any disruption to bus services is a major concern."
Today is the first full working day of the strike, which began at midnight on Saturday.
The 920-strong Dublin Bus fleet has remained in depots, with the company's 2,345 drivers refusing to go to work.
"This strike will go on as long as it takes to sort it out. We are in it for the long haul," said Robert Cloake from Greenhills.
Robert has been a bus driver from the Ringsend garage for 15 years.
His colleague Alan Perry, from Crumlin, has been driving buses for 15 years.
"When we arrive for work we often have to walk to the other side of town to get to our bus, but management want to exclude that time from our hours," he explained.
Alan and Robert laid the blame for the strike at the door of Transport Minister Leo Varadkar. "He is letting us fight with management and management fight with us, but he can step in and stop this," Alan said.
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