Belfast Telegraph

Bus deal ballot 'hard to call'

Union chiefs say the ballot on a deal to stop crippling strike action at Dublin Bus will be too hard to call.

As more than 2,000 drivers prepare to cast their vote on Thursday and Friday, Siptu held "intense discussions" on the revised proposals, aimed at slashing the company's costs by nearly 12 million euro.

A spokesman for the union said there had been "a real mixed bag" of reaction from drivers over the recommendations from the Labour Court, which could result in around seven million euro worth of pay cuts.

"Discussions today (Monday) were tense and there was a lot of different drivers with different opinions on the deal, so we really couldn't call how they will vote one way or the other," he said.

Siptu, which represents around 1,200 Dublin Bus drivers, will not advise members on how to vote. Like the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), which held a similar briefing for its estimated 1,200 members last week, Siptu said the new proposals offer clarity to workers.

If members vote to reject the proposals, the union warned further strikes could be called in the event Dublin Bus decides to unilaterally impose its cost-saving measures.

The Labour Court recommendations were reached following overnight crunch talks that brought a halt to a three-day strike, which caused travel chaos for more than 400,000 commuters over the August bank holiday weekend.

Under the new agreement, senior management would be hit with average pay cuts of up to 3,200 euro a year, fewer holidays and a longer working week.

A derogation period of 19 months was agreed upon - a time frame in which staff would have overtime and allowances cut which had not been clarified in the original proposals.

Changes to overtime and other allowances are also included in the revised deal, but some operational matters regarding drivers' breaks and bus scheduling will be agreed upon separately by a working group made up of management and unions.

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