Updated: 21/09/16 : 06:54:42
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Bus Éireann and unions to hold strike-averting talks

Bus Éireann management and unions are to hold talks at the Workplace Relations Commission to address a pay claim by staff amid mounting concerns about the financial provision of the loss-making company.

RTÉ reports that the talks come as industrial action is set to continue at sister company Dublin Bus in a separate pay dispute.

With the economy recovering, a surge of pay claims was inevitable - and the transport sector is no exception.

Earlier this year, Luas workers secured an increase worth 3.8% a year.

Dublin Bus workers rejected a Labour Court recommendation of 2.75% a year and have planned another 15 days of strikes.

Now it is the turn of Bus Éireann, whose 2,500 workers had a 19-month pay cut restored in January 2015.

They are now expected to seek a pay rise similar to the Dublin Bus claim - around 5% per year plus a 6% national wage round which was never paid.

However Bus Éireann is under serious pressure, particularly on its Expressway intercity routes, where the National Transport Authority has opened up the market to competition from private operators.

Bus Éireann lost almost €6 million last year, with further losses anticipated this year.

That does not augur well for the prospects of a substantial pay hike and a robust exchange of views is expected at the WRC.

Staff have already balloted for industrial action in the event that the company proceeds to introduce unilateral changes.