Belfast Telegraph

Hopes of 'sustainable future' for Bus Eireann as unions vote to accept pay cuts

Transport Minister Shane Ross has said Bus Eireann can be built into a successful and sustainable business after unions agreed to pay cuts and reforms.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) voted to accept Labour Court recommendations which include 10% pay cuts for anyone on 60,000 euro or more and the closure of a maintenance garage in Dundalk.

Siptu, Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association had already agreed to the proposals and the NBRU vote brought an end to the bitter di spute which put services off the roads for several weeks in March and April.

Mr Ross said: "I am pleased that all trade unions have voted to accept the recommendation and that management and employees can now move on with building a successful and sustainable future for Bus Eireann."

The minister said the deal showed that disputes, no matter how intractable they appear, can be resolved by responsible parties.

Mr Ross also repeated his assurances that he would set up a system for management, unions and government officials to hold talks on the future of public transport.

Dermot O'Leary, NBRU general secretary, said two thirds of its members in Bus Eireann backed the Labour Court recommendations.

But he added: "The acceptance of the Labour Court is just the beginning of the process to repair a company that has been damaged by Government policy, the protection of the earning capacity of our members remains paramount."

Mr O'Leary called on the minister to act on promises for the transport forum.

"It has long since past time that those faceless administrators in the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority were brought centre stage and stop hiding behind the plethora of public consultations being bandied about like snuff at a wake," he said.

Bus Eireann said the agreement with trade unions significantly enhances the prospects for the company.

"This will help us address the critical financial position and achieve significant and necessary improvements in efficiencies," the company said.

"Acceptance of this recommendation now also provides a basis to enable us to develop a viable business plan."

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