Updated: 04/03/17 : 09:30:32
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Bus strike suspended as new WRC talks start on Monday

Unions at Bus Éireann have suspended strike action scheduled from Monday to allow for talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Both SIPTU and the NBRU had planned an all-out indefinite strike at the company from Monday but the two unions have issued statements saying they are suspending the action after a request from the WRC.

Bus Éireann town services in Sligo along with all inter city routes were scheduled to stop on Monday and because of the shared depot with Irish Rail, rail workers in Sligo, in conjunction with five other similar national depots, were not prepared to cross the picket line resulting in severe disruption to the train service.

RTÉ reports that talks to resolve the dispute are now planned to start on Monday.

SIPTU said resolution of the dispute would require genuine efforts from the company.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: "It has always been apparent that the expertise of the WRC will be required to deal with the serious and complex issues in this dispute.

"In deference to a request by the WRC, the scheduled strike action by SIPTU members in Bus Éireann, which was due to commence on Monday, has been suspended.

"SIPTU representatives will continue to play their part in trying to avert a national public transport dispute but we rely on the management of Bus Éireann making genuine efforts to reach a resolution," said Mr Noone.

The NBRU is advising its members to remain on a "war-footing".

General Secretary of the NBRU, Dermot O'Leary, said: "Whilst we have informed the WRC that we will accept the invitation to attend at facilitated discussions on Monday next to discuss the €9m losses at Expressway, we remain firmly of the view that an overall resolution to this dispute can only be achieved by all of the stakeholders being party to an overarching agreement.

"We will of course endeavour, on behalf of commuters and our members, to work towards resolving this crisis, however, the attitude displayed by Bus Éireann management to date has left us with no option but to advise our members that they should remain on a war-footing and be prepared to engage in an immediate all-out strike, should the company plough ahead with its Irish Ferries style attack on bus workers moderate terms and conditions," said Mr O'Leary.

Bus Éireann said that the financial situation remains critical, with the company "facing insolvency by May".

In a statement, the company said: "To facilitate meaningful discussions with unions, Bus Éireann management have accepted a new invitation by the WRC to seek a solution.

"We will therefore defer the implementation of changes announced in our recent letter to staff, due to commence on Monday 6 March, while talks continue," said the statement.

"I welcome the news that Monday's proposed bus strike has been called off. I would like to thank both employer and employees involved in this dispute for accepting an invitation from the Workplace Relations Commission to return to talks," said Transport Minister Shane Ross.

"I am sure the travelling public will be relieved that Bus Éireann services will be available to them on Monday," added Mr Ross.