Belfast Telegraph

Bus Eireann workers to return to work after 21 days on strike

The all-out Bus Eireann strike has been lifted.

After 21 days of public transport chaos and pickets by workers, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu said their members were going back to work in time for the Easter holidays.

They will be asked to vote on recommendations on redundancies, pay structures and reform of their duties and management which were issued by the Labour Court.

It includes 200 job losses, the closure of the maintenance garage in Dundalk and the closure of a number of bus routes serving rural areas.

But news of the strike being lifted came as Siptu revealed that its members in Dublin Bus have voted in solidarity with their counterparts and threatened to take industrial action in support of workers in Bus Eireann.

The ballot secured the backing of more than two thirds of Siptu's Dublin Bus members.

The long-running dispute between Bus Eireann workers and management was sent to the Labour Court after the two sides failed to reach a full agreement on all the issues after five days of intensive negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Unions claimed they had identified 18 million euro in savings for the company.

Dermot O'Leary, NBRU general secretary, said: "Our members will now return to work after 21 days on strike.

"They have shown tremendous dignity throughout what has been an extremely difficult dispute, for that they are to be commended.

"We would also like to take this opportunity to thank members of the travelling public for their massive support and understanding through what has been a difficult time for them in having to make alternative travel arrangements for their daily commute."

Siptu's Willie Noone described the Labour Court recommendation as long and comprehensive.

"Every worker needs to study its contents and consider the consequences of accepting or rejecting it," he said.

"Our members have shown fortitude and solidarity in their fight to protect decent jobs and the public transport system.

"They will now return to work with their heads held high knowing that they and their union have done everything they could to try and protect conditions of employment."

Mr Noone added: "The dispute over recent weeks and months is the result of Government policy over several years and inaction over the past few months by the Minister for Transport Shane Ross, senior department officials responsible and the Independent Alliance. Our members will now reflect on the document and decide their futures."

About 2,600 Bus Eireann workers walked out on Friday March 24.

The company says it lost up to nine million euro last year and losses are continuing to accelerate and, exacerbated by strike action to date, threaten to collapse the company this year, its 30th anniversary.

Bus Eireann said its management and the board would give due consideration to the Labour Court recommendations.

"Our key focus now is on the resumption of normal services as soon as possible. Some services may resume in the regional cities this evening, but the vast majority of services will not be operational until tomorrow morning at the earliest," the company said.

Details of routes and services will be updated on the Bus Eireann website and social media.

"We again apologise for the inconvenience caused to customers over the last three weeks of strike action," the company said.

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