News Column

Strike Action Hits Travel in Ireland

May 13, 2013

Chris Kilpatrick

Cross-border travel arrangements have been badly hit by strike action in the Republic which has seen 95% of all bus services cancelled.

There are no Bus Eireann services between Dublin and Belfast or Dublin and Londonderry today with the strike action set to continue in the coming days.

The strike, which centres on a row over payroll savings of EUR 5m, is expected to cost Bus Eireann EUR 200,000 a day.

Bus workers say they stand to lose between EUR 3,000 and EUR 4,000 a year in salary cuts but management says salary reduction is vital to ensure viability.

The strike is being carried out by workers affiliated to the National Bus and Rail Union. Half the number of drivers at the company are affiliated to Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU).

In previous disputes with Bus Eireann, SIPTU members have not passed pickets.

Approximately 50,000 customers usually travel on routes across Ireland on a Sunday. With strike action getting under way from midnight yesterday, cancellations included all buses in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Clare, Kerry and in the greater Dublin area as well as several intercity routes.

A spokesman for Bus Eireann, Andrew McLindon, said it appeared that members of other unions including Siptu are not passing pickets. Mr McLindon said the financial position of the company is precarious.

"The unions should immediately engage with the company in talks, to bring this matter to resolution," Irish Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said.

"My understanding is that the company is available to engage with the unions, and has been available for many days."

Irish deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore said the industrial action was not good for the travelling public, not good for the company and not good for employees.

Originally published by BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

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Source: Copyright Belfast Telegraph 2013