Chaos looms for commuters as Dublin Bus drivers vote in favour of strike action

NewsBy Sunday World
Chaos looms for commuters as Dublin Bus drivers vote in favour of strike action

DRIVERS at Dublin Bus' largest union have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, in pursuit of a 15pc pay rise.

SIPTU said a 95pc majority of its over 1,160 drivers backed industrial action.

The union will complete a ballot of its members in seven grades, including supervisors and clerical workers, next Tuesday.

SIPTU Divisional Organiser for Transport, Energy, Aviation and Construction, Owen Reidy, urged Dublin Bus to return to the bargaining table immediately to avoid the "real prospect" of 24 hour and 48 hour stoppages and the possibility of an indefinite all-out strike.

He said the result demonstrates the determination of members to bring the pay dispute to a fair conclusion.

"Drivers and other workers at the company have not had a pay increase for eight years, have suffered reductions in earnings over the recessionary period and have been through three comprehensive restructurings during that time," he said.

He said the company returned to profitability in November 2014 and, over recent years, passenger numbers and revenue have increased.

"It is now past time for the pay of Dublin Bus workers to increase," he added.

He said union officials will meet members next week to discuss and plan a "sustained" campaign of action.

SIPTU clerical members also voted to support industrial action and strike action by 87pc and 80pc, respectively.

Strikes at the company would cause chaos for up to 334,000 passengers a day.

The ballot follows a vote by members of the National Bus and Railworkers Union in favour of industrial action.

SIPTU said industrial action could take the form of 24 or 48 hour stoppages or an indefinite strike.

Divisional Organiser, Owen Reidy, said workers suffered cuts in earnings up to 5pc during two cost-cutting plans.

He said passenger revenues rose by 30pc while the state’s subsidy fell by 24pc between 2010 and 2015, but the company still made a profit last year.

However, the Labour Court has said it is too early in the company’s recovery for it to support substantial pay increases.

The ballots were conducted after the unions rejected a Labour Court recommendation for an 8.25pc pay rise, or 2.75pc a year, over three years.

They had lodged a claim with the court for a 5pc per year increase for three years from January this year, as well as a payment in lieu of a national wage deal increase of 6pc that was not paid.

Bus drivers’ wages are roughly €39,000 a year including shift and premium payments but tram drivers stand to make up to €53,000 when they get the full benefit of the pay rise they achieved two months ago.

Dublin Bus has said it will wait for the results of the ballots of the remaining unions before considering the outcome.

According to its latest annual report, the company’s operating profit was €10.2m last year compared to €11.6m in 2014. It said this was driven by a growth in customers, a continued focus on its costs and “adjusted” customer fare levels.

It employs 3,400 people and its 2,500 drivers operate a fleet of 980 buses.