Unions work on draft document that could halt planned bus strike action
Unions representing bus drivers were working late last night on a draft document to prevent this weekend's planned bus strikes.
Representatives from Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann were locked in discussions with the drivers' unions, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU).
The National Transport Authority (NTA) and the Department of Transport are also understood to have been present at the talks in the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).
Senior sources indicated that the negotiations, which continued late last night after reconvening on Monday, are progressing well.
A draft document was being assessed by unions and bus companies involved in the crunch talks, in a bid to avoid commuter chaos this weekend by averting a two-day strike.
A source said that "all sides were working towards a solution".
Thousands of bus drivers across the country will down tools tomorrow and on Saturday as part of a long-running dispute with the companies and the Government over plans to open up 10pc of the routes to public tender following an EU directive.
Union representatives have said they are concerned their members' rights will deteriorate if this step is made.
They also fear that several Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus services may be taken over by private companies. Drivers in both unions voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action earlier this year.
Almost two weeks ago, emergency "exploratory talks" at the LRC broke down and bus drivers went on strike for 48 hours on Friday and Saturday over the May Bank Holiday weekend.
It is believed that businesses around the country are concerned ahead of this weekend's planned action.
Bus Eireann bosses recently said they would "engage constructively" in the talks, while a spokesperson for Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government would be available to provide assistance if needed.
A spokesperson for the NBRU this week said it is also focused on ensuring the strike did not happen.
Drivers are due to strike this weekend and for three more days on May 29, 30 and 31.
The talks, which are taking place in private, were described as being "open and robust" earlier in the week.