Belfast Telegraph

Dublin Bus and unions set for meeting in move to end dispute

Dublin Bus management and trade union representatives are to hold talks in a bid to end the industrial dispute that has wreaked commuter chaos in the city.

The exploratory discussions will be convened at the Workplace Relations Commission on Monday.

Commuters have endured six days of transport disruption to date and another 13 days of action are scheduled.

The National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) indicated that a decision on whether to proceed with the further strikes will be taken once it assesses if management are "serious" about comprehensive engagement on workers' pay rise demands.

While Dublin Bus has offered to increase wages, the unions have demanded a more significant pay hike.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary said: "Whilst the request to attend at talks without preconditions is something the trade unions have long been calling for, the fact is that our members are extremely angry that the inaction to date by the company and the Department of Transport has caused severe disruption to commuters and staff alike.

"The NBRU focus from the commencement of this dispute has been geared towards getting Dublin Bus to attend at discussions in order to address the fact that its own staff are deserving of a fair and adequate wage rise after eight long years of austerity enforced pay stagnation and pay cuts."

He added: "Any decision we have to take in relation to postponing our members industrial action is one which we will only consider after first establishing if Dublin Bus are serious about engaging in comprehensive discussions towards a resolution of this dispute on behalf of the 400,000 commuters and 3,500 staff."

Transport minister Shane Ross, who has faced criticism over his handling of the dispute, welcomed the development.

"I am pleased talks are due to take place between both sides at the Workplace Relations Commission and we now need to give the relevant institutions space to formulate an agreement that is fair and workable for both sides," he said.

In a brief statement, Dublin Bus confirmed it would attend what it described as "exploratory talks without preconditions".

Other unions involved in the dispute will also attend.

Willie Quigley from trade union Unite, which represents craft workers in Dublin Bus, said: "Dublin Bus workers, along with the travelling public, have been frustrated by the failure of both Dublin Bus and their shareholder, the Government, to engage meaningfully to resolve this dispute.

"Not only have our members received no wage increase since 2008, and been denied an agreed wage increase - they have also suffered a deterioration in their working conditions.

"Against that background, our members are determined to pursue their legitimate claims.

"We welcome the WRC's intervention, and look forward to engaging tomorrow without preconditions."

Siptu Transport Division Organiser, Owen Reidy, said: "We understand that the purpose of this initial meeting is to see whether there is the basis for a meaningful negotiation between the parties.

"Any decision as to whether the pending strike action by our members on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week goes ahead, or is cancelled, will be made by the union committee based on the progress, or otherwise, at tomorrow's initial meeting."

The talks are due to get under way at 2pm.

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