Union vows to take minister to court over plans for buses
THE National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU) says it has "no option" but to launch legal action in a bid to derail the Government's plans to privatise a portion of the country's bus routes.
It's emerged Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe and the country's National Transport Authority (NTA) has been served with legal notice over the union's legal threat.
NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary told the Herald that his union is "100pc serious" about the proposed court action and is "not prepared to see thousands of jobs put at risk".
The union has warned that the approach being taken by the Government could result in both Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus "no longer existing" after 2019. The latest industrial crisis centres around the Government's decision to allow the NTA to tender for the operation of 10pc of routes currently being run by the State companies.
Talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) broke down last month as the NBRU and SIPTU balloted members on potential strike action.
The proposals by the NTA would see several Dublin Bus routes put out for tender, all of which are orbital and therefore don't affect the city centre.
The plans may also see the privatisation of commuter services from Dublin to Tullamore, Portlaoise and Kildare.
Mr Donohoe has claimed measures will result in improved services and ultimately save the taxpayer money.
However, the unions insist the move will open the door for a campaign of privatisation, put jobs at risk and result in a deterioration of workers' conditions.
The Dublin Central TD has said the legislation underpinning the measures had been "carefully crafted" in accordance with EU law.
The legislation allowed the National Transport Authority (NTA) to renew Bus Eireann's and Dublin Bus's direct award contracts, subject to allowing for tendering of 10pc of the public service obligation bus routes, he added.
However, these direct award contracts expire in 2019, after which the unions say further privatisation of routes are likely to take place unless these plans are changed.
In a letter to Mr Donohoe, Mr O'Leary said the future of 10,000 jobs are now at risk.
On the issue of legal action, Mr Donohoe is consulting his legal team.
His spokesman said that he is "disappointed" over the threat by the NBRU.