Bus Éireann strike: What you need to know

SIPTU members in Bus Éireann began an indefinite all out-strike action and placed pickets on bus stations across the country on Friday 24th March at 12.01 a.m.

Today (Sunday, 26th March) is our members third day of action and they need your support.

They will maintain their strike action until management agrees to engage in serious talks concerning the public transport system.

The workers are deeply concerned about the inconvenience being endured by the travelling public and other SIPTU members due to the strike action but they believe they have no other option.

What SIPTU members in Bus Éireann want:

1) Fair pay and working conditions

Bus Éireann is a company with a history of paying workers enough money to support their families. This is a good thing.

Management is demanding that the company competes with private bus operators to provide services on routes. Many of the employees of these private bus companies depend on state welfare payments to survive.

Our members are more than willing to compete with private companies in terms of the standard and level of service provided. However, they will not get involved in a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of pay and conditions of employment.

The solution — A Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for bus workers. Such an order under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 would protect bus drivers’ terms and conditions of employment in both the public and private sectors. It would mean that any competition between Bus Éireann and private operators would be based on the quality and efficiency of the service provided and not on driving down workers’ pay and conditions.

2) To provide a good public service

Bus Éireann has provided an effective bus service connecting communities throughout rural Ireland and between all urban centres for over 60 years.
It is mandated by the National Transport Agency to provide services on Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes — these are routes that are not profitable commercially but are socially important as they connect rural communities together.

The Government is believed to be intent on allowing such private operators to tender for all PSO routes in 2019 and if they are successful they will receive state funding to provide the services.

Bus Éireann provides transport to hundreds of thousands of Travel Pass Scheme participants free of charge on a daily basis. This is a crucial service for vulnerable groups and the elderly in our society.

The solution: State funding (known as a subvention) for Bus Éireann was cut by 35% between 2009 and 2015 (from €50 million to €33.7 million). This funding must be increased so that Bus Éireann can continue to provide essential public transport services.

3) Talks about agreed change at the company

The current strike action is in response to a management attempt to force through changes to workers’ terms and conditions of employment without any agreement from Bus Éireann workers.

The changes, which management stated it intended to immediately implement in a letter to workers on 22nd March, would have resulted in a loss of earnings of up 30% for many Bus Éireann workers.
If management had been allowed to force through such massive cuts it would have set a precedence for similar imposed changes in other semi-state companies.

The solution: An immediate return to meaningful and genuine talks. SIPTU representatives want to engage in meaningful negotiations concerning far-reaching change and improvements in the public bus network. In order for these talks to be effective there must be direct input from the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport as well as management and workers’ representatives. The best place for these talks to take place is either at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) or another body capable of overseeing an agreement on a just and fair solution to this dispute.

SIPTU members in Bus Éireann want a solution to the current dispute and to return to work as soon as possible.