Unions have huge cash fund to cover striking bus workers
Unions have amassed a warchest of more than €20m for workers as they face into a bus strike this weekend.
Between them, Siptu and the NBRU have built up the massive cash fund to pay striking workers while they engage in their dispute with Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann over the privatisation of around 10pc of routes which drivers claim could affect their working conditions.
A study of the latest available accounts for the unions by the Herald shows Siptu had a balance in the fund at the end of 2013 of €19.7m.
This is collected from around 180,000 members making regular contributions.
The smaller NBRU, which has 2,900 members, had bank and cash balances of €2.17m at the end of 2013.
While not acknowledging precisely the figures in Siptu coffers, its divisional organiser of the utilities and construction division, Owen Reidy, said a "considerable" war chest has been built up that will more than cover the days of strikes.
"A portion of what members pay goes to a strike fund we hold in case disputes reach that level," he told the Herald.
"It is there for the protection of the workers in case of strikes.
"We will be well able to sustain the strike days we have planned, no problem."
Meanwhile, Dermot O'Leary of the NBRU said its accounts were "in good health" and that the proposed seven days of strikes can be covered.
"Obviously we would prefer if we weren't in the position of having to strike, and between the first phase and the second phase at the end of May we would need to sit down and see where things were going and what we can do down the line as a union," he said.
The NBRU accounts also noted in 2013 that it had spent €185,000 on strike pay for disputes involving both Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann.
"The first was a two-day strike by Bus Eireann drivers in May over pay, and the second was a three-day strike by Dublin Bus drivers in August, again over pay," Mr O'Leary explained.
The first two-day strike in the current dispute will hit commuters and tourists this Friday and Saturday May 1 and 2, with a further two days of strikes planned on May 15 and 16.