Bus Éireann services may be on the road as early as this evening, Thursday, following the intervention of the Labour Court in the dispute now entering its twenty-first day.National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) general secretary Dermot O’Leary said all five unions involved in the 20 day dispute have given a commitment to the court that they will lift pickets on depots once the court issues its recommendations. That is expected to come at lunchtime today.
Mr O’Leary said if there are buses available to drive, his members will drive them. “The operations side is up to Bus Éireann,” he said. Mr O'Leary went on to say: "Bus Éireann have displayed outright brass-neckery by attempting to paint our members in a bad light by implying that they would not cooperate with a return to work before the issuing of the Labour Court Recommendation, this despite the fact that Bus Éireann management were present at the Court when the request to lift pickets was accepted by all five Unions.
Both unions and management attended marathon talks at the Labour Court which began on Tuesday aimed at finding a way out of the dispute which is costing Bus Éireann up to €500,000 a day in lost revenue. The dispute centres on a proposed survival plan for the financially troubled company that involves significant cuts to pay and conditions for staff.Bus Éireann acting chief executive Ray Hernan said he did not expect buses to be up and running by Thursday evening which marks the start of the Easter bank holiday weekend for many.
“I apologise to the public. That is not now going to occur until, at the very earliest, Friday morning,” he said.
People before Profit TD Bríd Smith claimed Dublin Bus workers will vote overwhelmingly for strike action in solidarity with their colleagues in Bus Éireann. She told The Irish Times
that the full result of the ballot will not be known until Thursday morning, but the trend was heavily towards strike action.
She is a former driver and bus conductor with Dublin Bus and NBRU official.
No strike action can take place on foot of the ballot for at least seven days by which time the Bus Éireann dispute may be resolved. Sligo
Meanwhile in Sligo, bus drivers want to return to work.At a public meeting held on the picket line at Sligo Bus Depot on Tuesday evening the drivers expressed their wish to return to driving commuters on a daily basis.
Spokesperson Alister Keyes told Sligo Today,
"We were hoping for good news from the Workplace Commission but it's not very nice that dirty tricks are being played with the National Transport Authority operating behind the scenes."
"We didn't ask to be here, our wish is to be on the road. Our apologies goes to the travelling public, they are very much inconvenienced, but it's not our fault, the company [Bus Éireann] has caused this."Sligo County Councillor Gino O'Boyle said he had attended the meeting to support the striking drivers, "they have had enough, they have to get their rights and cannot settle for second best."
The Solidarity Party councillor added, "Let them keep the pickets up until they get their rights."
Organiser of the meeting Gary Smylie said, "As a member of the travelling public I depend on the great work these drivers do, in a very stressful job. I support them in their action and totally condemn the private operators who are cherry-picking the best routes. These operators are exploiting the public by hiking their fares during this dispute.
"In typical capitalist fashion they are taking unfair advantage of the current crisis to feather their own nests."