Key Labour Court talks are to take place this week in Dublin in a bid to resolve a festering dispute in Bus Eireann. The threat of industrial action at the company that provides bus services across Ireland has been lifted for now, after 12 hours of talks at the Labour Relations Commission ended on Friday night.The National Bus and Rail Union had threatened to down tools yesterday if the operator went ahead with cuts for its 2,500 staff. However, after the LRC talks, the company said both sides had agreed to attend a Labour Court hearing as soon as possible.
The NBRU had threatened to strike immediately over wage cuts, while Siptu and TSSA planned to walk out on Thursday. Bus Eireann said it has agreed to defer implementing its plan "for a short period" while the Labour Court hearing takes place.
The Labour Court will discuss the company's revised proposals as union chiefs warned there were still major issues to be overcome in the talks. But the Labour Court decision will not be binding and any outcome at the talks will then have to be balloted by the union members. The company is still looking to make savings of around €9m in payroll costs.
The original plan included cuts in overtime from time-and-a-half to time-and-a-quarter; an increase in clerical and executive staff's working week from 36 to 39 hours; and cuts in shift, premium and rota payments. Also involved was cutting annual leave by three days over the next three years, and cutting allowances and expenses by a third.
Union sources said some of the proposals in the revised plan had been clarified, and some items had been taken out, but there still remained serious concern about cuts in shift allowances which would mean a €30 cut per shift, and cuts to expenses which would see drivers having to provide their own transport to get to rural locations.