Belfast Telegraph

Bus Eireann strike called off as bosses and unions hold talks

A planned all-out indefinite strike at Bus Eireann has been called off as bosses and unions agreed to attend talks.

Industrial action in a row over cost-cutting at the carrier had threatened to cripple the nationwide bus network from Monday.

But both the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu said they would sit down with company bosses at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The strike action has been "suspended" to allow for the negotiations to take place.

Dermot O'Leary, general secretary of the NBRU, said the decision to call off action was made possible after Bus Eireann agreed to shelve some cutbacks.

He added: "We will of course endeavour, on behalf of commuters and our members, to work towards resolving this crisis.

"However, the attitude displayed by Bus Eireann management to-date has left us with no option but to advise our members that they should remain on a war-footing and be prepared to engage in an immediate all-out strike, should the company plough ahead with its Irish Ferries-style attack on bus workers' moderate terms and conditions."

Willie Noone, of Siptu, said it postponed strike action "in deference to a request by the WRC" to do so.

"Siptu representatives will continue to play their part in trying to avert a national public transport dispute but we rely on the management of Bus Eireann making genuine efforts to reach a resolution," he said.

Bus Eireann said it was deferring recently announced cost-cutting measures to allow the talks take place.

These measures included the axing of routes between Dublin and Derry, Clonmel and Westport within weeks while services between the capital and Limerick and Galway were to be curtailed.

The cutbacks were expected to impact on pay and jobs.

Earlier this week, Transport Minister Shane Ross insisted he would not make an 11th-hour intervention to resolve the row.

Bus Eireann says it lost up to 9 million euro (£7.7 million) last year and will be insolvent by the end of this year - its 30th anniversary - with the loss of all 2,600 jobs unless an emergency survival plan is agreed.

Unions claim cost-cutting measures being proposed by the company will result in effective pay cuts of up to 30%.

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