11 Jan 2013

Ireland: talks try to halt 'indefinite' strike

Talks to avert a potential Bus Éireann strike are still continuing tonight at the Labour Relations Commission. Unions have warned of industrial action, which could severely disrupt services, if management proceed with plans to implement cuts under a new recovery programme from Sunday.

It could kick off on Sunday
Arriving at the talks this morning, representatives of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) warned its 900 drivers would refuse to operate Bus Éireann services as of Sunday if the company went ahead with plans to implement cuts in staff terms and conditions without union agreement.
NBRU general secretary Michael Faherty said the only way industrial action could be averted would be for the company to withdraw the changes proposed for Sunday and to allow negotiations to take place.
It is understood the unions are tonight considering a new document drawn up by management. Bus Éireann had told staff last month it would unilaterally introduce its new recovery programme as of Sunday.
Among the measures which Bus Éireann proposed to implement were a reduction of overtime rates from 1.5 times to 1.25 times; an increase in the duration of the working week for clerical and executive staff from 36 hours to 39 hours; cuts in shift, premium and rota payments; the curtailing of annual leave entitlement by three days for three years (2013-2015); and a scaling back of a range of allowance and expense payments by 33.3 per cent.

Three unions balloting for action
Three unions have balloted for industrial action: Siptu, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and the NBRU. The threatened strike action is for an indefinite period and could severely curtail bus services.
Workers have rejected proposals to cut overtime and to increase the working week for clerical and executive staff. There will also be cuts in annual leave entitlement and expenses. Bus Éireann says the measures are necessary to stave off projected losses of €16 million this year.

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