herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Transport chaos as seven days of bus strikes planned

DISRUPTION

Seven days of bus strikes could cost the city millions in lost revenue, business and tourism groups have warned.

The news comes as Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann plan two 48-hour stoppages in the coming weeks and a three-day strike at the end of May over a plan to privatise 10pc of bus routes.

Bus Eireann has predicted that the strikes could cost them €3m to €5m in lost revenue.

Transport minister Paschal Donohoe has said he is open to discussions to address the concerns of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann employees who fear the privatisation of almost 30 routes could trigger deterioration of their pay and conditions

Bus Éireann spokesperson Nicola Cooke said the proposed seven days of strike action was unprecedented in the history of the company and it had grave concerns of the impact it will have on the travelling public.

fines

"We would also have to to pay fines to the National Transport Authority because we wouldn't be delivering the services," she said.

"You're talking hundreds of thousands of euro essentially," added Ms Cooke, who emphasised that the company was open to further talks with all parties.

Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) are now planning to hold 48-hour stoppages over May 1 and 2 as well as May 15 and 16.

The NBRU is also planning a further three-day strike on May 29, 30 and 31.

One of the strike days coincides with disruption of the rail service on the northside due to work to improve the line between Connolly and Howth/Malahide from May 2 to 4, leaving public transport options severely curtailed.

Owen Reidy, of Siptu, said his members were "left with no alternative but to proceed with industrial action", claiming that management from both Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus had refused to meet with workers.

Bus Eireann said in a statement that it has "responded to every request to participate in the Labour Relations Commission (LRC)".

Both it and Dublin Bus last night urged the trade unions to reconsider their industrial action and return to talks.

Meanwhile, the NBRU has launched a High Court legal challenge to the proposed privatisation of bus routes by the National Transport Authority (NTA).

The High Court heard that following the NTA's decision, contract notices inviting tenders for the routes were issued.

In correspondence with the union, lawyers for the NTA said it is entitled to make the decisions it made to invite tenders for the routes.

Award contracts are due to be made in April next year.

The NBRU says it has launched the action because of its concerns about the effects of privatising routes currently operated by the two State bus companies and fears that the decisions could lead to the demise of both Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann.

powers

The NBRU, and one of its 3,000 members, Pauric Wall, who operates a route between Tullamore and Dublin for Bus Eireann, are seeking orders quashing three decisions by the NTA made last January 22 to subject certain routes to a tender process.

They are also seeking declarations, including that the NTA acted outside of its powers.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex parte basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan who made the matter returnable to June.

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