Mr Graham Doyle
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
22nd February 2017
Re: Bus Éireann Crisis
I refer to the above and the current impasse that has developed between Bus Éireann Management and the representative Trade Unions.
You will be acutely aware that the NBRU, along with Trade Union colleagues, have been calling for a Multi-stakeholder involvement in working towards a resolution to the Bus Eireann Expressway crisis.
You will be further aware that we have been critical of the role of your Department in relation to the creation of this crisis, in terms of policy and the not insignificant fact that it was your Department that initiated the preparation of a number of plans by Bus Éireann Management, based on the premise of putting the Company on the path towards a sustainable future.
We note that there have been quite several requests, from right across the political spectrum for the Minister to become involved in facilitating a route towards a potential solution to this crisis.
The response, or lack of response to-date has been deafening.
That said, we are to assume that those calls for Ministerial intervention will continue unabated, particularly from politicians across all parties and none.
However, it is the potential assistance of the Department which particularly interests us at this juncture, bearing in mind the central role it has played in the lead-up to the current dispute.
You will of course understand, though not necessarily agree that the Trade Unions would have strongly held views in relation to the absolute necessity to have Shareholder buy-in in any eventual resolution to the Bus Éireann Expressway Crisis.
Such views are not alone supported by the Departments remit in relation to the State-owned transport provider, but also the involvement from the get-go in, as it were, commissioning the then management of Bus Éireann to, and I will quote the much maligned, though extremely informative Grant Thornton Report here:
‘at the Stakeholders request, Management were asked to prepare a plan which avoided large scale industrial relations unrest. This plan was presented to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in early 2016 and although NewEra had verified the accuracy of the underlying figures on behalf of the DTTAS, the proposal was rejected on the basis of cost and payback period’ (my emphasis)
All very reasonable, given the fact that the Department is, on behalf of the taxpayer, the sole Shareholder of CIE, and by extension Bus Éireann.
Given your Departments role to-date, I feel it would at this juncture, and perhaps in advance of a damaging dispute, be prudent to request that the Department would respond positively to a request, should one emanate, to assist in a facilitated process towards finding a resolution to the crisis.
The Unions are already on record as saying that we will play our part and engage in discussions on efficiencies with Bus Éireann, in order that we might develop some building blocks towards an overall solution to this crisis.
I trust that you, on behalf of the Department, and in deference to those hundreds of thousands of commuters that rely on Bus Éireann will give serious weight to the merits of the Shareholder, using its good offices to assist towards a resolution.
National Bus and Rail Union
Copy/ Ms Oonagh Buckley Chief Executive Workplace Relations Commission