Updated: 14/04/17 : 03:53:15
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Sligo bus services face cuts in new survival plan

Special Report

SOME SLIGO routes seem certain to be affected in cutbacks proposed by the Labour Court for Bus Eireann staff returning to work this morning, Friday.

Ten percent of those who have been on strike since March 24th last will not be with the company in 12 months.

Siptu, one of the striking unions, said the proposals would involve ''the ending of routes across rural Ireland.''

1. Drivers earning over €60,000 will set cuts to the earnings plus freezes on increments.

2. Perks providing meals and subsistence will also see a 10% cutback.

3. Work practices will change across all grades of worker if the settlement package is accepted.

Meanwhile, Sligo town services and Expressway links to all major towns, cities, airports and Third Level colleges will be back on the road within the next 24 hours.

The 17 page recommendation which emerged from the Labour Court yesterday afternoon is already being studied by management and workers.

Bus Eireann is now insolvent and has lost an estimated half million euro daily during the 21 days strike.

The package is subject to approval in union ballots, while the companyi itself must also say 'Yes.'

Gravest Significance

The Labour Court's key proposals include cuts of 10 per cent to earnings over €60,000, freezes on increments, and the closure of Dundalk maintenance garage. 

The Court said the matter before it was, by common acknowledgement, one that would determine the capacity of the company to survive.

It said Bus Éireann’s assertion that it was insolvent was of the “gravest significance.''

The Court's recommendation sought to a “fair and appropriate balance,'' it said.

In ''most difficult circumstances” it had sought to frame a recommendation which drew a balance between the extreme difficulties facing the company and the legitimate expectations of the staff. 

Staff numbers will be reduced through “natural attrition” and voluntary severance to achieve the optimal numbers identified, the recommendations state.

If the recommendations are accepted a minimum of 120 drivers will leave on a voluntary severance basis over 12 months.

The recommendations will also see 22 job cuts among executive grades.

Complete Review

A new composite rate of pay will apply for every hour worked by drivers up to a maximum of 48 hours. 

The rates proposed are €17.37 for the first year of service, €18.28 for the second year of service, €19.20 for the third year and €20.11 for year four.

There will be a complete review of all driver rosters and duties, and full implementation of on-board telematics and driver training. 

Staff will also be expected to take on “any additional flexibilities” relating to customer service and providing assistance to passengers as required. 

The changes would also involve the full implementation of a seat reservation system. 

A 10 per cent reduction in meal and subsistence rates is proposed for drivers and other grades.

                   Sligo Bus Depot up and running again...for now. Photo: SligoToday.ie

Key Matters

The cuts to executive jobs numbers will be 22. Colleagues will have to increase their working week by three hours to 39 hours, and a 10% cut earnings over €60,000 is proposed.

The Labour Court has confirmed they provide for a reassessment of ''key matters'' in the package will be reviewed after 12 months.

These include the recommended composite rate for drivers, loss of earnings, the change to the Sunday premium for maintenance staff, and the company’s intended reduction in the earnings of management and executive staff earning over €60,000.

Bus Éireann said it would give due consideration to the Labour Court recommendations.

Fully Informed

Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus And Railworkers Union (NBRU) said its contention that “major cultural change is imminent” had been borne out by the recommendation.

“We will now move immediately into a consultative phase with our members across Bus Éireann, he said.

This would be done, said Mr O'Leary, ''in order that they will be fully informed in advance of casting their ballot on the fundamental issues contained in the recommendation.”

Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said every worker needed to study the recommendation and consider the consequences of accepting or rejecting it.

Meetings of both unions members and details of the ballot are expected in the coming days.

Link: See Sligo Today 1/12/2017.