Negotiation's a two-way street, and striking bus drivers need to realise this
BY staging a strike, bus workers' unions have shown how out of touch they are with the mood of the Irish people.
Last Friday and Saturday, on a busy bank holiday weekend, the SIPTU-NBRU work stoppage brought severe disruption to the travelling public.
In these times, with many people in the private sector out of work or on reduced wages, bus drivers are well-paid by average levels. What's more, many of them are making significant money in overtime. Their jobs are secure.
Last week's strike cost Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann almost €3m, it's estimated. These same companies are already receiving millions of euro in taxpayer subsidies yearly to survive. Now they'll need even more.
The plan to privatise a mere 10pc of services did not merit this drastic action by the drivers.
Fears that tendering certain bus routes out to sole contractors would result in a loss of jobs for existing employees were quashed with a Government promise that not a single driver will lose their jobs. The union, therefore, have scored an own goal with their thoughtless action at a time when we are coming out of recession. In fact, given the loss to Dublin businesses last week this strike was nothing short of industrial sabotage.
To make this even worse, the unions are planning five more days of action.
What can be gained by this? Apart from holding the public to ransom and costing taxpayers and businesses even more money? Further strikes will also alienate any remaining public support.
SIPTU's Owen Reidy said this week that the companies should spend more time on resolving the issues. But negotiation's a two-way street - and bus drivers need to show some sense themselves.