Response to Bus Eireannthreat of cuts 22nd March

Response to Bus Eireann March 22nd 2017 v2

 

Mr Ray Hernan
Acting CEO
Bus Éireann
Broadstone
Dublin 7

22nd March 2017

Re: Bus Éireann proposal to immediately implement cuts to staff pay and conditions breaching of longstanding collective agreements

Dear Sir,

I refer to the above and am to advise that the items that you intend to immediately implement, as outlined in your correspondence to Staff today are unacceptable to this Union.

It would appear from your correspondence that the management at Bus Éireann are prepared to run the risk of being accused of having a causal relationship with the truth, in terms of reflecting what transpired at the WRC.

It is unfortunate that the Company would choose to use the WRC in a way which dovetails very nicely with a narrative, which feeds into the anti-union agenda beloved by some within Bus Éireann, the CIE Group and beyond into some of those currently in Government.

The value of the Workplace Relations Commission is measured, not by throwing it in front of the Bus, but in the ability of the parties to a dispute to be able to maintain a degree of decorum in relation to what is discussed through the facilitated process.

What irks our members most with this sorry saga, is the fact that Bus Éireann seem to want a ‘quick fix’ to a crisis which has been anything but quick in the making.

That said your accusation that ‘there was a refusal at the WRC to accept any reductions of earnings, including unnecessary overtime earnings’ is manifestly untrue.

Both the NBRU and our SIPTU colleagues referenced the notion that efficiencies may impact on some of our members, we went even further in our correspondence by acknowledging that:

It is recognised that any reduction in payroll that is necessary (and we accept that it is) due to the eradication of inefficiencies, may result in some staff not retaining a similar earning capacity into the future, we went on to say that; any losses that may be incurred, can be addressed as a component of any potential discussions.

You then go on in your correspondence, to dismiss the notion of some savings from ad-hoc overtime as amounting ‘to less than €0.5 million in a full year’

This less than €0.5m is approximately 8.3% of the €6 million projected losses as outlined to Staff by the then CEO Martin Nolan in September last.

An amount not to be sneered at I would suggest, if you were solely concentrating on the Expressway deficit of course.

It is at this point that honesty would be helpful, what is really transpiring here is that Bus Éireann is coming under pressure, possibly from those that fund the PSO and Schools element of its business, to lower the cost per kilometre within those contracts.

Such a scenario if true, is simply appalling and would translate into State Agencies and or Departments demanding that a State-owned Company would, by default descend to the standards which some in the industry apply to those they employ.

The NBRU will not be party to a race to the bottom, we along with our Trade Union colleagues, went out to bat on behalf of Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus in 2015 when some of those agencies thought they could ride roughshod over publicly-owned Companies and turn them into yellow pack employers.

The 1958 Transport Act insisted on CIE applying decent and reasonable terms and conditions to its employees, it surely behoves a State-owned company to provide leadership in relation to the treatment of workers.

Your correspondence, with its thinly veiled nod to ‘going low cost’ helps to bolster our view that those stakeholders, who for now are sitting spectator-like on the side-lines, will ultimately have a part to play in arriving at an overarching and sustainable solution.

It is after all, in the gift of the State agencies and Departments to insist that reasonable standards of employment should form part of any contract that is funded from the Public Purse.

It should not come as any surprise, at least to those of us that practice industrial relations that the pressure has been building on the Unions since Bus Éireann unashamedly began to raid the wages of Staff following the briefing of the 16th January.

The necessity for those that rely on this most vital of Transport Services, to make alternative arrangements in the event of a Dispute, has always been to the fore in our deliberations around reacting to this continuous ‘death by a thousand cuts’ provocation.

The patience of our members, because of the disdain shown to them by Bus Éireann has now reached its sell by date.

Whilst it can be anticipated that the reaction to your correspondence will be identical to that which followed the letter of the 27th February, we will in deference to other colleagues, meet with the Trade Union Group tomorrow at 12 noon, it is our intention, following this meeting to communicate with Bus Éireann with regard to our reaction to this appalling attack on ordinary decent bus workers.
Yours Sincerely,

_____________________

Dermot O’Leary
General Secretary
National Bus and Rail Union

Copy/Ms Anna Director Conciliation WRC

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