Updated: 21/11/17 : 05:56:23
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National bus strike threat over Sligo rosters averted

Peace has broken out in talks between Bus Éireann and unions at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Unions said that a rostering issue - at six locations including Sligo - that sparked fresh unrest at the company in recent weeks has been resolved.

Negotiations concerning the proposed rosters – which the company say are essential cost-saving measures – got under way at the Workplace Relations Commission yesterday, Monday.

It was believed that the process would continue today however a breakthrough compromise was reached late last night.

The NBRU argued that the rosters were unworkable and some drivers had to work up to 14 hours a day.

Siptu said in a letter to the company that driver representatives in Sligo, Galway, Drogheda, Broadstone (Dublin), Tralee and Cork have been given rosters that are unacceptable to the drivers.

The union said it was abundantly clear that plans to implement new rosters would be resisted.

However last night, both unions and Bus Éireann welcomed a second clarification document issued to both sides by the WRC.

The unions say the breakthrough will allow a Labour Court recommendation - that ended a national dispute earlier this year - to come into force on December 3.

The talks were called to end a dispute that has caused delays and cancellation of services in the east. Continue reading below.

Continued: Sources said the rollout of the rosters was crucial as they formed the basis on which the company recently won a National Transport Authority tender to run five Waterford city bus routes.

The rollout of initial temporary rosters coincided with a spike in sick leave as 14pc of drivers rang in sick, compared with a norm of around 7pc to 8pc.

A spokesperson for Bus Éireann said that the clarification document “will ensure cost savings can be achieved to address the company finances in line with our business plan”.

Dermot O’Leary of the NBRU says everyone at the company can now get on with serving the public.

“Hopefully after a very difficult year for Bus Éireann, for its customers, and for the staff, hopefully come December 3 those new rosters will facilitate a work/life balance for our members, and a proper and full service for the people that are relying on this vital bus service to get them from A to B,” he said.

Bus Éireann was keen to implement the new rosters that were part of a deal accepted by unions to end a dispute that caused three weeks of strikes earlier this year.

The commercial semi-state company said the rosters had to be implemented to cut costs as it tries to address losses and reverse its insolvent financial position.