Bus drivers to take strike action
Drivers at Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann are to take four days of strike action next month in a row over the privatisation of routes.
Students starting exams and travellers on a busy bank holiday weekend may be affected, Bus Eireann said.
The operators plan to put a tenth of services out to private tender. SIPTU utilities and construction division organiser, Owen Reidy, said talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) had collapsed.
Mr Reidy said: "It is outrageous that having taken a moderate approach to prevent industrial action by seeking direct talks with both bus companies, Siptu has been met with such intransigence.
"We have had a meeting with the Department of Transport, which was useful and workmanlike, but until we meet with both bus companies it is impossible to make an assessment on the prospects of making progress in allying our members' concerns.
"The Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoe, needs to get his house in order and resolve what is a dysfunctional position taken by these companies."
Industrial action is scheduled for May 1-2 and May 15-16.
A Bus Eireann spokesman urged the trade unions to reconsider and avoid any industrial action that will adversely impact on customers and their everyday journeys to work, colleges, and those who need to visit family or friends.
"We are also particularly mindful of students starting exams around this time, and many of those who will have travel plans for a busy Bank Holiday weekend.
Bus Eireann has responded to every request to participate in the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) discussions regarding the decision by the NTA (National Transport Authority) to tender 10% of bus routes.
"We agreed to Siptu's recent request to meet regarding their issues, and stated that we would do so under the auspices of the LRC, and we still remain available to meet any of the parties involved in the ongoing process."
Mr Donohoe said he was disappointed. He added: "This will cause considerable disruption across the country, will deprive the economy, which is slowly recovering, of revenue and will cause widespread disruption for the travelling public and those visiting from abroad."
He said: "Allowing for a degree of competitive tension in the market will ensure better value for money for the taxpayer and improved quality of service for commuters and I am committed to that objective.
"Both companies are open to compete for the routes that are going out to tender. I have also made it clear that I am open to continuing discussions in a bid to address employees' concerns.
"The companies also remain available to resume discussions with the unions at the LRC and I would urge the unions to avail of that in a bid to prevent this strike from going ahead and to avoid unnecessary disruption to the public and to the wider economy."