Updated: 11/04/17 : 07:15:46
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Bus strike talks break down without agreement

There is disappointment nationwide this morning as the news breaks that the Workplace Relations Commission talks have broken down.

There was hope yesterday that an agreement would see the bus drivers return to work while they were balloted on any proposed agreement.

However it has been confirmed this morning by the company and the unions that the talks have broken down without agreement.

The matter has now been referred to the Labour Relations Court at 3pm today which both sides have agreed to attend.

Union representatives have accused the Department of Transport of exercising external influence on the talks. Some sources say the Department is in favour of collapsing Bus Éireann in a covert attempt to privatise the company.

Around 1,900 of the company's 2,600 strong workforce have now been without wages for almost three weeks.

Pressure is mounting on management too - with potential insolvency looming within weeks.

The company, which lost €50,000 a day in January, is currently losing €500,000 on every day of the strike action.

Around 110,000 passenger journeys have been disrupted each day - though many are expected to have moved their custom to private operators providing alternative services.

Draft proposals for efficiencies from drivers - including 120 job losses for drivers alone - were circulated yesterday.

Today's talks also include potential cuts affecting other grades.

Sligo meeting

Meanwhile in Sligo an ad hoc public meeting will take place at 5pm this evening with striking drivers on the picket line at Sligo Bus Depot.

Local activist Gary Smylie told Sligo Today that he had spoken to the striking Sligo drivers and the meeting will discuss 'how members of the public who depend on this vital service can help in protecting our bus services from privatisation.'

He says, "The private bus operators see this crisis as an opportunity to increase their fares. They couldnt wait a day before they rushed to charge an extra €5 for Sligo to Tubbercurry and an extra €7 from Sligo to Donegal. This widespread extortion must stop."

Mr Smylie added, "I have heard countless tales where elderly people now spend two thirds of their pension on taxis. Those who depend on the free travel now cannot attend hospital or bring grand-children into the town."

On politicians he concluded, "The Transport Minister Shane Ross has his publicly funded Merc but where is his fellow party member Mayor of Sligo Municipal District, Cllr Marie Casserly on an issue that has such a devastating effect on Sligo town?"