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Translink to cut Ulsterbus Tours as part of £20m cost saving effort

Unite the Union has warned that 54 jobs are potentially at risk.

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Translink is attempting to find £20m in savings to adapt to loss of revenue in the coronavirus pandemic. (Paul Faith/PA).

Translink is attempting to find £20m in savings to adapt to loss of revenue in the coronavirus pandemic. (Paul Faith/PA).

Translink is attempting to find £20m in savings to adapt to loss of revenue in the coronavirus pandemic. (Paul Faith/PA).

Translink has announced plans to cut the Ulsterbus Tours as part of a £20 million savings effort.

The transport company has carried out a review to reduce costs while maintaining front line services after the coronavirus pandemic affected revenues.

Group chief executive Chris Conway said they are targeting savings of £20 million, warning that difficult decisions will have to be made.

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Chris Conway (Liam McBurney/PA)

Chris Conway (Liam McBurney/PA)

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Chris Conway (Liam McBurney/PA)

“The Covid-19 economic impact has left public transport globally in a very challenging funding situation,” he said.

“Translink welcomes the response from the NI Executive and Department for Infrastructure with emergency Covid-19 funding, however it is important to recognise the impact that Covid-19 will have on revenues for some time to come.

“We are targeting savings of £20 million and as such, we have had to make some very difficult decisions.”

Mr Conway said the company is aiming to reduce the impact on employees and is committed to maintaining front line services.

“However, in driving improvements to internal processes, we anticipate it is likely there will be a number of redundancies in management and overhead functions,” he said.

“We will be starting a process of consultation with employees and trade unions over the coming days.”

Unite the Union said Translink is potentially seeking up to 54 compulsory redundancies.

Unite Deputy Regional Secretary Davy Thompson said the announcement is concerning news to the workforce.

“This is the first time in living memory that we face the threat of compulsory redundancies in Translink and reflects the particular challenges posed by the Covid pandemic against the backdrop of the long-term underfunding of public transport,” he said.

“Unite will enter consultation with Translink on this proposal with the aim of fighting for every job and countering the ripple effects that are likely to arise from the decision to withdraw from Ulsterbus Tours.

“We wish to make clear at the outset that our engagement is predicated on no impact to the provision of rural services or socially-vital services to deprived urban communities.”

Mr Thompson said public transport in Northern Ireland has been “underfunded for years, if not decades, leaving it in a precarious state entering this crisis”.

“If the Northern Ireland Executive and the Westminster government are serious about a green transition we need to see a sharp increase in funding,” he added.

Translink has been beset with financial difficulties in the past which have now been compounded by the pandemic.

In April, Mr Conway told Stormont’s Infrastructure Committee it needed a £100 million injection of funds to continue providing a public transport network following a 90% drop in passenger numbers.

Translink received an additional £20 million from the Department of Finance in the June Monitoring Round as unspent funding from other departments were redistributed.

PA