Bus Éireann strike: Staff to consider Labour Court recommendations

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Bus ÉireannImage source, PA
Image caption,
Bus Éireann told the Labour Court it was currently insolvent

Bus Éireann staff are to return to work as they consider a recommendation made by the Irish Labour Court.

They have been on strike since 24 March in a dispute over cuts to pay and working conditions.

Management has said the changes are essential to avert the prospect of insolvency at the loss-making company.

The company said services may resume in some cities on Thursday, but the majority will not be operational until Friday morning at the latest.

The Labour Court has been considering the issues in the dispute after talks broke down at the Workplace Relations Commission earlier this week.

A court recommendation issued on Thursday stated that Bus Éireann told the Labour Court it was currently insolvent.

Labour Court chairman Kevin Foley describes this assertion as being of the "gravest significance" for those who work at the company and said the court had to give such a contention the most serious consideration.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Bus Éireann workers have been on strike since 24 March over pay cuts and work conditions

The recommendation also acknowledges it must also give the most serious consideration to the effect of the proposed changes on Bus Éireann employees.

It notes there is little point in making a recommendation which would ensure that the company went out of business, or that did not give staff an opportunity to maintain sustainable employment on fair and reasonable terms into the future.

Mr Foley makes a number of recommendations including some pay cuts, voluntary redundancies, work practice reforms and depot closures in a bid to restore the financial viability of Bus Éireann.

In a statement on Thursday, National Bus and Rail Union general secretary, Dermot O'Leary, said: "Our contention that major cultural change is imminent has been borne out by this recommendation.

Image source, RTÉ
Image caption,
The action has caused inconvenience for passengers

"We will now move immediately into a consultative phase with our members across Bus Éireann."

Union members will then hold a ballot on the recommendation.

SIPTU sector organiser, Willie Noone, said that the Labour Court recommendation had to be studied by every union member and the consequences of accepting or rejecting it considered.

"SIPTU representatives will endeavour to ensure all our members are fully informed prior to balloting on the recommendation," he added.