Union wants bus strike talks - as long as there are no 'preconditions'
One of the trade unions involved in the Dublin Bus dispute has told Transport Minister Shane Ross it is willing to come to the negotiation table this week as long as there are no "preconditions".
The National Bus and Railway Union (NBRU) last night hit out at what it described as a "lie" that drivers wanted Mr Ross to "open the State chequebook".
Mr Ross has used the phrase several times since the dispute escalated last month.
In a letter seen by the Herald, NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary challenged Mr Ross over the claim.
"I am more than aware that the standard or stock answer to journalistic queries, as fed to ministers from department officials, are designed to keep clear blue water between Government and organisations such as trade unions, particularly in times of industrial disputes," Mr O'Leary wrote.
"However, it is important -from the perspective of bringing clarity to some of the issues that are central to the dispute - to nail a lie once and for all.
"Neither I nor my members require you to 'open the State chequebook' in order to resolve this dispute."
Mr O'Leary told Mr Ross that his department must not be "found wanting" and should intervene.
"The workers at Dublin Bus, along with 400,000 commuters that require this vital service, are relying on all of the parties to this dispute to show leadership in attempting to find a resolution which will enable our members to do what they do best, providing a public transport service," Mr O'Leary said.
"We on the trade union side will provide leadership on behalf of our members and come to the negotiation table (if requested) without any preconditions, you will of course appreciate that the other party to this dispute will be required to reciprocate if we are to resolve this dispute.
"Minister, it is hoped that your department will not be found wanting when it comes to doing the right thing by commuters and staff alike by assisting in arriving at a speedy resolution to this dispute," he said.
Strikes are due on Friday and Saturday, while there are also plans to strike on the following Saturday - the day of the All-Ireland football final replay.
Mr Ross has been criticised by the Opposition over his lack of action.
However, the prospect of disruption on the day of the All Ireland final will heap more pressure on him.
In the letter, Mr O'Leary also refers to remarks made by his Mr Ross' Independent Alliance colleague Finian McGrath, who said on Saturday talks should re-commence at the Workplace Relations Commission and that there should be no pre-conditions.
Mr McGrath told Saturday with Claire Byrne that Mr Ross shared this view.
"This, minister, is exactly the position the trade unions have been articulating ever since the industrial action commenced," Mr O'Leary said.
Describing Mr McGrath's political leanings as "left of the political spectrum", Mr O'Leary told Mr Ross: "It was his comments with regards to your position which intrigued me more than his much welcome support."