Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Bus drivers reject cost-cut deal

Dublin Bus drivers have rejected a proposed cost-cutting deal.

The threat of industrial action hangs over Dublin Bus after drivers rejected a new deal aimed at cutting company costs.

Drivers were balloted on whether to accept the deal, which was struck following overnight crunch talks that brought a halt to a three-day strike earlier this month.

More than 400,000 commuters were left without transport over the August bank holiday weekend - a taste of the potential travel chaos that now looms.

Around 2,300 Dublin Bus drivers, represented by Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), voted on the measures, aimed at slashing the company's costs by nearly 12 million euro a year.

Two-thirds of that would be taken directly from workers' pay.

Siptu said 72% of its members rejected the new proposal, while members of the NBRU voted by a majority of two to one against them.

NBRU assistant general secretary Dermot O'Leary said they needed time to reflect on the overwhelming rejection.

"We would hope that the company would take time to reflect on the situation and not rush towards a kneejerk reaction," he said.

Siptu sector organiser, Willie Noone, said it is clear drivers in Dublin Bus are not willing to accept the costcutting measures.

"Our members at general meetings indicated that they were frustrated that yet again they were being asked to provide a public transport service while the subvention to pay for it was continuing to be reduced and there was no end in sight to cuts to their conditions of employment," he added.

Ballot results for Siptu members in other grades of Dublin Bus staff are expected early next week.

The agreement, voted down by drivers, proposed senior management be hit with average pay cuts of up to 3,200 euro a year, fewer holidays and a longer working week.

A derogation period of 19 months was agreed upon - a time frame in which staff would have overtime and allowances cut which had not been clarified in the original proposals.

Changes to overtime and other allowances were also included in the revised deal.

Neither unions representing the drivers advised them how to vote, but they both insisted the revised proposals offered clarity to workers.

Dublin Bus said it was extremely disappointed with the outcome of the ballot of the driver grade in both Siptu and the NBRU.

A spokeswoman said the recommendations were rejected despite the lengthy process they have been involved in with trade unions and employees over the past 14 months and the efforts of the Labour Court to broker an agreement last week.

"Dublin Bus will now await the outcome of the ballots of the other six grades and will not be making any further comment until this process is completed," she added.

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