Tuesday 12 December 2017

Crunch bus talks have just four days to avoid All-Ireland chaos

Dublin buses parked up at Broadstone Garage
Dublin buses parked up at Broadstone Garage

Dublin Bus drivers and management have just four days to make a deal on pay or GAA fans will face chaos on the day of the All-Ireland replay.

A union representing the bus drivers has urged the company to use this week as a "window of opportunity" which may be the last chance to settle the pay row.

Bus services across the city will run today and tomorrow after unions called off strikes after lengthy talks yesterday.

However, Saturday's scheduled strike, which will take place on the day of the All-Ireland replay between Dublin and Mayo, will go ahead unless talks progress over the coming days.

Although Dublin Bus management has repeatedly stated they cannot afford a full pay increase, drivers look set to receive some form of a pay rise.

Ahead of the talks yesterday, unions said they would not call off the planned strike action if there was not a prospect of a pay rise.

The main unions at the semi-state company indicated they would call off the work stoppages if the company agreed in principle to give a pay rise above 8.25pc.

Talks between unions Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) started yesterday afternoon at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

They attended negotiations there following a weekend of traffic chaos in the city.


The unions agreed to meet after an invitation by the WRC in a bid to end the disruptive dispute that has already halted services for six days.

News that planned strike action today and tomorrow was called off emerged shortly before 6pm last night - just three hours before services were due to stop at 9pm.

Union representatives said they suspended the stoppages in order to engage in intensive discussions to settle the dispute.

Speaking after the talks, NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary said that strike action on All-Ireland day would go ahead unless a deal was reached. "There is a dispute set for next Saturday which we have not been asked to postpone, and we're not going to postpone," he said.

"There's an opportunity for the employer to come back to the table with the support of those in the department. They will need that support in order to reach a resolution.

"We're quite serious and focused coming in here, however long it takes, to get a resolution to this dispute."

Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy last night said that WRC officials came back saying they felt there was "scope for negotiation" after the union made it clear that drivers will only settle for an increase beyond the 8.25pc recommended by the Labour Court.

Mr Reidy also questioned whether the dispute can be resolved "at all" if it is not settled with the assistance of the WRC over the next three days.

"We have a couple of days to try and fix this," said Mr Reidy.

"The other [strike] dates that all of the unions have put in the diary remain, starting from Saturday, but our earnest wish is that we don't have to invoke that.

"We are happy the WRC has made this initiative and we are very happy the workers will be able to work and the travelling public will not be discommoded."


The Siptu activist believes there is a responsibility on Dublin Bus to come to the table and make an improvement on an 8.25pc pay rise over three years.

He said: "To quote the minister [Shane Ross], we won't be a soft touch, but we are prepared to bargain and comprise and we hope the employer is prepared to do likewise. Because unless that happens, this thing will get worse and everybody will suffer.

"We want to use the next few days to try and be creative and engage meaningfully with the employer," he added.

A spokeswoman for Dublin Bus last night said the company would "continue to engage with all parties" at the WRC over the coming days in an effort to "find a resolution to this current dispute".

Minister Ross last night welcomed the latest developments in the high-profile dispute.

In a statement a spokesman said the Minister "is cognisant of the relief this will bring to the travelling public, businesses and all those who have been adversely affected by the recent strikes". He asked for all involved to be given "appropriate space to arrive at a solution".

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