OVER 1,700 Dublin Bus workers have emphatically rejected a work practice changes and pay deal by a 97% majority. This result is all the more significant as the leadership of both unions, SIPTU and the National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU), in conjunction with the state-owned transport company, had recommended the deal to their members.
Fortunately the rank and file were not going to be fooled by a deal that was going to radically change their work/life balance, increase hours of work on certain days and introduce part time drivers for a pay deal worth only 15% over six years for some drivers. This was being proposed to keep Dublin Bus ‘competitive’.
The implication of failing to agree a deal was further “efficiencies” aimed at making Dublin Bus more competitive with private providers. These cuts to prepare the service for privatisation have included slashing 60 routes, and reducing the fleet by 20 percent and the workforce by 17 percent over the last decade. 10% of the bus network has already been handed over to private providers and successive governments have reduced funding of Dublin Bus has by €28 million.
The National Transport Agency used the threat of the company’s current routes being awarded to their competitors when the contract expires in 2024 to concentrate the minds of union leaders. Hence their collusion in the shabby deal.
General Secretary NBRU Dermot O’Leary noted “there is anger amongst the workforce in Dublin Bus” after the deal was soundly rejected. Strange that he never picked that up before the ballot.
There will be further talks. Bus workers must insist to their leaders that the deal is rejected in its entirety or else strike action will commence. Such action must also demand an end to all talk of privatisation. A Strike Committee should be elected and control of the strike should be in the hands of democratically convened mass meetings. The union leaders have already shown they have no stomach for a fight, so the rank and file must take over.