Belfast Telegraph

40m euro strike fund will help Bus Eireann dispute workers, Unite pledges

Walkout workers at Bus Eireann have been bolstered by a 40 million euro strike fund, it has been revealed.

Trade union Unite says it will open its massive war-chest to support the all-out industrial action as it entered its fifth day.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, warned transport chiefs it has the "financial might" to sustain the striking workers.

"Over a number of years, Unite has amassed a 40 million euro strike fund to support members during industrial disputes," he said.

"I am sending a clear message to employers: when our members are in dispute, they not only have right on their side - they also have financial might on their side."

The manoeuvre is the latest in an increasingly bitter stand-off between Bus Eireann bosses and workers.

On Monday, directors at the State bus company said they could not sign off on their accounts or set a budget for the year ahead - as is required - because of the deepening crisis.

The bosses also warned a voluntary redundancy scheme - which was expected to shed about 300 jobs - could not be funded without a financial plan in place.

Trade union Siptu retaliated with a threatened escalation, announcing that Dublin Bus and Irish Rail workers will vote on a "sympathy" strike in support of the walkout at Bus Eireann.

Unite's vowed financial backing will further boost morale on picket lines around the country.

"They are fighting not only for their own futures, but for the right of communities throughout Ireland to a decent public transport system that provides a quality service and quality jobs," said Mr McCluskey.

"They have my full support in that battle - and the backing of a 40 euro million strike fund."

Bus Eireaan bosses said they are "gravely concerned" at losses continuing to accelerate at the company, which it says has been exacerbated by strike action to date.

They appealed for union leaders to agree a survival plan to prevent the company collapsing.

The row centres on millions of losses run up at Bus Eireann in recent years, with management warning the company is at risk of going bust.

Unions involved in the action include the National Rail and Bus Union, Siptu, Unite and the Transport and Salaried Staff Association (TSSA).

The TSSA branded the failure of Bus Eireann bosses to sign off on its accounts as "unedifying shenanigans" being played out "ahead of probable privatisation".

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