Transport Minister slams bus unions' strike plans as 'disproportionate'
TRANSPORT Minister Paschal Donohoe has described planned industrial action by Dublin Bus as "disproportionate and unprecedented" while criticising the "escalation" of the number of proposed strike days.
The minister was speaking in reaction to plans by Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann to stage seven days of industrial action over the May and June bank holiday weekends.
Talks between the Government and unions representing both companies broke down earlier this month, with a day of strike called for May 1.
However, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) are now planning to hold two separate 48-hour stoppages on May 1 and 2 and May 15 and 16. The NBRU is also planning a further three-day strike on May 29, 30 and 31.
Both unions fear that if 10pc of the bus routes are opened up to the private sector, it could trigger a deterioration of their members' pay and conditions.
One of the planned strike days coincides with disruption of the rail service on the northside due to work on the line between Connolly and Howth/Malahide from May 2 to 4, leaving public transport options severely curtailed.
Mr Donohoe described the proposed action as "disproportionate and unprecedented" while slamming the way the situation has escalated.
"The scale of disruption and difficulty to commuters, as well as the economy if seven days of strike were to go ahead, is disproportionate and unprecedented in the history of both of these companies, who are only returning to growth and hiring new drivers," he said.
"The degree of escalation regarding the strike, from a number of hours to four days and now to seven days, will cause harm to the companies and their employees as well as immense inconvenience for commuters."
Mr Donohoe also emphasised the need for unions to engage in the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) process, and said it is "imperative" that these talks take place.
"The Labour Relations Commission is the place in which these matters can be dealt with, with all it has to offer in terms of expertise and process," he said.
"They were already dealing with many of these issues, and I've made clear my commitment to responding in a positive manner to the concerns that have been raised."
Owen Reidy of Siptu said earlier this week that his members were "left with no alternative but to proceed with industrial action", claiming that management at both Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus had refused to meet with workers.
Bus Eireann said it has "responded to every request to participate in the LRC".