30/06/2009

Commission To Manage Bus Éireann Dispute

The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) has stepped into the fray between management and unions at Bus Éireann.

Talks are due to begin talks today in a bid to resolve a dispute over the company's tough cost-cutting plans.

A planned strike over the €30m cutbacks was called off last week after the LRC invited both sides to discussions.

Last week, a Siptu organiser warned the company it must abide by agreements if it is to avoid strike action by workers.

Sector Organiser Andrew McCarthy wrote to the human resources manager Des Tallon warning him the union would ballot members for industrial action if the company "continues to ignore agreements".

The warnings came as Bus Éireann attempted to implement a cost-recovery programme, which would see an estimated 320 jobs go with about 50 routes initially either being scrapped or having their level of frequency reduced.

The company also planning to introduce revised terms and conditions for staff, including the deferral of payment of the national wage agreement, changes to shift allowances, increased flexibility regarding working arrangements and reductions in overtime.

The company told trade unions it would be unilaterally implementing the plan after a deadline it had set passed without agreement. A Bus Éireann representative said passenger numbers had fallen by 10% and that it was currently losing more than €500,000 per week.

However, Mr McCarthy claimed the company would be acting illegally if it attempted to cut drivers' pay without agreement.

The Labour Relations Commission will now be mediating between the two groups in an effort to forge an agreement.

(DW/BMcC)

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