Belfast Telegraph

48-hour Dublin Bus strike postponed 'as gesture of goodwill'

Unions at Dublin Bus have called off a strike planned for the next 48 hours.

The compromise was reached to allow talks to continue between the National Bus and Rail Union, Siptu, Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), and the management of the company.

The postponement was agreed as a "gesture of goodwill" following a request from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

A Siptu negotiator said industrial relations mediators believe there is scope to make progress on the bitter pay dispute if discussions continue during the week.

"We agreed to suspend tomorrow and Wednesday only at the request of the WRC," the spokesman said.

It is understood negotiations will resume at the WRC on Tuesday morning.

Commuters and bus users have endured six days of transport disruption to date and another 13 days of stoppages had been threatened by drivers and their colleagues.

The strike threat, which coincides with this Saturday's All-Ireland football final replay, remains.

Dublin Bus, which said the dispute has cost it six million euro, has maintained that it is open to negotiations but that talks hinge on a Labour Court recommendation of an 8.25% pay rise.

Unions claimed the actual losses the company has suffered are about 3.5 million euro and warned that the vast majority of staff have already rejected the first pay offer and they want talks to focus on an offer closer to their demands of a 15% salary hike.

Unions described the exploratory talks as productive and said there was enough common ground to resume when the strike threat has been lifted.

It is understood mediators in the WRC believe a deal could be reached between unions and management as the week goes on.

Buses had been due to be taken off the road at 9pm on Monday night in advance of the latest 48-hour stoppages.

In a statement, Dublin Bus said negotiations are planned for the coming days.

"Management attended exploratory talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) today and will continue to engage with all parties at the WRC over the coming days in an effort to find a resolution to this current dispute, " the company said.

"All Dublin Bus services will now operate as normal tonight and Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 September."

Siptu's organiser for Dublin Bus staff John Murphy said he was confident enough progress could be made to avoid further transport chaos, particularly on All-Ireland final Saturday.

"T he WRC, which chaired the talks, expressed its view that there is sufficient scope for the parties to enter intense negotiations in order to resolve the current dispute at the company," he said.

"While industrial action is scheduled for Saturday, Siptu and other union representatives are hopeful that progress can be made in discussions which can facilitate the cancellation of further planned stoppages at Dublin Bus."

Transport Minister Shane Ross welcomed the deferral and acknowledged the relief it will bring to the travelling public, businesses and others affected by the recent strikes.

He said he hoped all sides are given the appropriate space to arrive at a solution that is "fair and achievable".

Mr Ross also praised the WRC for facilitating negotiations.


From Belfast Telegraph