More Bus Éireann workers vote for strike

Siptu members at Bus Éireann have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action at the company.

The announcement comes after members of the National Bus and Rail Union also voted for strike action by a margin of 91% earlier this week.

Siptu, which has 900 members at the bus company, also joins the Salaried Staff Association in voting for industrial action.

The action is in opposition to CIE's plans to change working conditions from this Sunday in a bid to save around €9m on the company's payroll.

Bus Éireann has claimed that failure to agree reductions in overtime and expenses will lead to losses of €16m a year.

Siptu said that the proposed changes are not reasonable and if they come into force, workers will begin strike action from Thursday, January 17.

Talks between the sides at the Labour Relations Commission have previously failed to break the deadlock.

Willie Noone, Siptu organiser, warned of a widening of the dispute to other State-controlled transport companies.

“Our members have always been willing to change working conditions and practices within reason but are not prepared to have changes unilaterally imposed on them,” he said.

“This decision is a direct response to the threat by management to dictate change and cut the pay of our members.”

Siptu said members voted to strike due to the seriousness of the issues as other action was considered less effective.

The union said it expected services to be hit nationwide, and possibly hit other companies in the CIE group.

“If the company proceeds on its current course it is likely that workers across the CIE group will be forced to take similar action,” Mr Noone said.

“The attempt by the company to have all issues referred to the Labour Court was seriously flawed and was a crude attempt to fast track the imposition of changes without adhering to agreed procedures.

“Bus Éireann workers are not prepared to continue to provide a public transport system while management is eroding every aspect of their conditions of employment, including their wages.”

Bus Éireann revealed its financial crisis last June with proposals for a massive cost-cutting plan including cuts to overtime and shift rates, premium and expense payments and annual leave, and increasing the working week.

A spokesman reiterated its view that a strike would deepen the company’s financial difficulties.

“All it would achieve would be to worsen our financial situation, which would then require us to seek even further savings in the area of terms and conditions,” he said.

Bus Éireann called on unions to adhere to an in-house agreement for 30 days notice of strike.

The cost-cutting plan includes reducing overtime rates from 1.5-1.25 times; the working week for clerical and executive staff moving from 36 to 39 hours; reducing annual leave by three days this year and in 2014 and 2015; and a one-third cut in other allowances and expenses.

The company has around 2,500 staff, with about two-thirds employed as drivers.

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