Union bosses urge transport chiefs to get cheque books out to end pay strikes
Union bosses have called on transport chiefs to get their cheque books out to end strikes over pay.
About 400,000 commuters and bus users are facing two days of transport chaos from 9pm on Wednesday as Dublin Bus workers stop the network for 48 hours.
And despite warnings from Transport Minister Shane Ross that his office will not pay for a deal, drivers' representatives called for increased long-term funding from Government.
Siptu's Owen Reidy said it was crazy that the National Transport Authority took two million euro out of Dublin Bus profits last year.
"Dublin Bus returned to profitability in 2014. This is despite the reduction of the state subvention to the company by 24% in the last six years," he said.
"Meanwhile, workers at the company have not had a pay rise in eight years."
Mr Reidy claimed the Government is out of line with the rest of Europe on public funding for buses, with it being on average 50-50 from fares and state coffers compared with 75%-25% in Ireland.
"The Department of Transport must end the practice of starving the capital city's public bus service of funds," he said.
The strike by members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu is the first of three 48-hour stoppages planned for this month.
It was due to begin at 12.01am on Thursday but the last services will be three hours earlier, to ensure engineers and supervisors are in depots as the fleet is locked up.
Dublin Bus said it was a health and safety issue.
Gardai warned motorists not to use bus lanes even though no buses are running.
Business lobbyists in Retail Ireland said bus users account for about 42% of the money spent in shops in Dublin city.
Director Thomas Burke said: "Cutting off such a vital service will undoubtedly have an impact on city centre footfall and trading levels during the days of industrial action.
"The prospect of ongoing stoppages in services during September is a cause for great concern and must be avoided."
Further strikes are planned on September 15 and 16 and again on September 23 and 24 and pi ckets are being held in Clontarf, Conyngham Road, Harristown, Ringsend, Phibsboro, Donnybrook and Summerhill and the head office on O'Connell Street.
NBRU chief Dermot O'Leary accused Mr Ross of acting like Pontius Pilate and urged him to give Dublin Bus room to negotiate.
Siptu organiser John Murphy said: "Siptu members sincerely regret that they have been left with no option but to undertake industrial action in pursuit of their reasonable pay claim. They also regret that management and the Department of Transport have not lived up to their responsibility to the travelling public and seriously attempted to resolve this dispute."
Dublin Bus workers 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.