Friday, May 03, 2013

Doherty urges Bus Éireann to find resolution before looming deadline

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) urged staff and management at Bus Éireann to reach an agreement on cost cutting proposals before the looming deadline of 12th May. Management has said that they will implement cuts without agreement if necessary, which has prompted unions to threat strike action.

“Bus Éireann needs to get its house in order. After eleven months of wrangling, management and unions have failed to reach an agreement on how to achieve a total of €20 million in savings. Now, thanks to this impasse, Bus Eireann customers are facing the very real prospect of strikes which could paralyse the public transport system.

“To be frank, I think it is time some realism entered the discussions. The company has managed to bring about €11 million in operational savings. But no progress has been made in achieving €9 million in savings from terms and conditions. This is despite the fact that under the current plan put forward by the Labour Court, there will be no reductions in basic pay or employment levels. Many workers in other sectors would grab that sort of offer with both hands.

“Bus Éireann is in an unsustainable situation. It is facing annual losses of more than €11 million. And Minister Varadkar has been frank about this; even if he wanted to, he simply doesn’t have the money to help the company close the gap. While the State subsidises school services and Public Service Obligation, it legally cannot support Bus Éireann’s commercial Expressway services. These services can only be secured if savings are achieved.

“Ultimately it will be staff, commuters and possibly even school pupils who will suffer if unilateral cuts result in strike action. More than 100,000 commuters use Bus Éireann’s city and town services every day. And a further 114,000 school children could be left stranded if services come to a standstill., thousands of whom will be due to sit their exams next month.  

“Time is running out to reach an agreement. As we head into a Bank Holiday weekend, I would urge those on both sides to go to every effort to reach a resolution on delivering savings and averting what would be hugely disruptive industrial action.”

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