Any bus strike is likely to last until Christmas
Dublin commuters face a bus strike that could last right into Christmas, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has warned.
If Siptu drivers vote for industrial action this week "it will certainly run into Christmas and will be very damaging for everyone," said the Minister.
In a dire prediction Mr Varadkar said any strike would be "prolonged" and "will go on for weeks" and could jeopardise the future of the bus company.
"It would end by staff going back to work having achieved nothing really but the company they go back to might not be the one they left and nobody can predict what Dublin Bus would look like after a prolonged strike," he said.
Siptu drivers are due to be re-balloted on Tuesday and Wednesday on the controversial cost-containment plan at the company. They recently voted by a narrow margin of 2pc to rejected the latest proposals put forward to generate savings of around €11m at the company.
SPEAKING ON RTE'S MARIAN FINNUCANE SHOW, THE MINISTER SAID "THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN DUBLIN BUS ARE JUST AVERAGE PEOPLE WHO DO A VERY GOOD JOB IN MY VIEW."
There was a "political element who are slightly different who would love me to say something that they could then use to sway the ballot," he added.
The Dublin West TD stressed that "really absolutely everything has been done to try and get these cost savings by agreement". There was now "nowhere else to go. At this point there is no further intervention possible".
Mr Varadkar said he did not think a strike was necessary. Most of the staff had voted for the cost savings, most of the drivers had voted for them and most of the Siptu members had voted for them. "It is just one group at this stage,who were against the measures".
He insisted that if the strike went ahead the Government would not pay the company for services it did not provide. "You can be sure of that," he warned.
While the Government had contingency plans and would try to replace as many services as they could this would only be on major routes.