Belfast Telegraph

Drivers accuse Dublin Bus bosses of unnecessary cancellations before strike

Bus drivers have accused transport chiefs of ratcheting up a pay dispute and threatening a long and damaging industrial row over pay.

Siptu issued the warning after Dublin Bus revealed buses were being taken off the city's streets at 9pm on Wednesday to prepare for a 48-hour strike which begins at 12.01am on Thursday morning.

Union organiser Owen Reidy said: "This is an unnecessary move which will just further inconvenience the travelling public."

About 400,000 bus users will be left seeking other transport as the pay dispute escalates to three 48-hour strikes this month.

Dublin Bus claimed drivers would start taking the fleet off the streets three hours before the strike was due to start in order to give them enough time to get vehicles into secure depots.

Final departures will take place at 9pm on Wednesday night.

The shut down will hit Airlink services to Dublin Airport, all city services, the Ghostbus Tour on Wednesday, Nitelink buses on Friday and Saturday and all sightseeing services.

"Dublin Bus has urged trade unions not to engage in this industrial action which will cause unnecessary inconvenience to customers. We will continue to make every endeavour to avoid any disruption to services and find a resolution to the matter," a spokeswoman said.

Strikes by the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu are planned for September 8 and 9, the following week on September 15 and 16 and again on September 23 and 24.

Pickets are planned for Clontarf, Conyngham Road, Harristown, Ringsend, Phibsboro, Donnybrook and Summerhill and the head office on O'Connell Street.

Siptu called for Dublin Bus bosses and officials in the Department of Transport to radically change their approach.

It said drivers were committed to finishing their Wednesday shifts, even if they had to work past midnight and the official start of the strike.

Union organiser John Murphy said: " Even worse is the situation whereby two million euro of the profits earned by Dublin Bus was taken last year by the National Transport Authority rather than reinvested in the company. This sum could have gone some way towards meeting the Dublin Bus workers' pay claim."

Workers claim they have not had a pay rise for eight years.

They rejected a Labour Court recommendation of an 8.2% pay rise over three years. They want 15%, a payment in lieu of an agreed 6% pay increase which was deferred a number of years ago and wages to be pensionable along the same terms as Irish Rail workers among other guarantees.

Dublin Bus, which says it does not have the money to pay any more than 8.25%, apologised to customers.

Union chiefs are using the victory for pay rises for Luas staff earlier this year to back up their campaign for better wages for bus drivers.

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