Unite members prepare for strike as Bus Éireann talks collapse

unite-white-out-of-redUnion poses questions regarding failure to negotiate in good faith

Management and Minister share responsibility for ‘crisis of commitment’

February 21st: Speaking following this afternoon’s collapse of WRC talks between unions and Bus Éireann, Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said that management and the Minister bear joint responsibility for what he termed ‘a crisis of commitment’ to the company’s future as a public transport provider. Unite represents craft workers at the Bus Éireann.

“The unions went into these talks in good faith in a bid to avert a strike which no one wants – least of all Bus Éireann workers, or the traveling public which depends on the service provided by our members. However, it seems Bus Éireann management was not prepared to negotiate in good faith. The past number of weeks have been dominated by a campaign of leaks, threats and unilateral proposals. This behaviour continued into the WRC talks with the unacceptable ‘discussion’ document circulated by Bus Éireann.

“Bus Éireann management must be well aware that unions could not be expected to negotiate terms and conditions of our members without being given sight of potential non-payroll savings – or being given an opportunity to examine how such savings might be maximised. This raises several questions: to whom is management reporting? Who, if anyone, instructed them to adopt a negotiating approach which was bound to fail? And what, if any, is the agenda underlying this approach?

“The recent history of Bus Éireann shows that cuts, and in particular payroll cuts, will not stem the crisis. The core problem is one of declining revenue, and that decline can only be reversed by investing rather than cutting.

“The crisis in Bus Éireann is a crisis of commitment to the future of public transport. Instead of stepping up and bringing all stakeholders together to discuss the best way forward for Bus Éireann as a public transport provider, Transport Minister Shane Ross – like his immediate predecessors – has passively presided over the degradation of a vital public service.

“Unite members are now preparing to take immediate and indefinite strike action if and when Bus Éireann moves to unilaterally implement the threatened cuts”, Willie Quigley warned.

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