Topical Issue Debate in respect of planned industrial action at Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann

30th April, 2015

I would like to thank the Deputies for raising this issue with me, which I am keenly aware is a cause of huge concern to commuters throughout the country and indeed workers in our public bus companies.


On Tuesday, I issued a statement which dealt comprehensively with the industrial relations issues involved in the current dispute between SIPTU and NBRU and the bus companies.


I confirmed that no current employee of the two companies would have to transfer to another employer should their company be unsuccessful in retaining one of the routes being tendered out in the current process.


As this means that the terms and conditions of all those employees are fully protected, my statement provided a framework for the unions to return to the LRC to formalise an agreement with the companies on that basis and to agree a process to deal with any implementation issues which might arise.


This statement removed any industrial relations basis for strike action by either union against the companies and should have therefore have led to an immediate calling-off of the strikes planned for this weekend and on five subsequent days in May.


The unions have not called off the strikes and have sought to justify the disruption they will cause to the public, and the damage they will cause to the companies, by reference to a range of issues which have already been addressed or which relate to Government policies and legislation which are entirely outside the control of the companies and therefore not a valid basis for legitimate industrial action.




To remove any doubt or confusion which may exist in the public mind, I want in the short time available to me to address some of the points raised by SIPTU and the NBRU.


Firstly, they have stated that no bus worker should be compelled to move to a private operator under TUPE.  As stated, I confirmed on Tuesday that such a commitment can be given in relation to all current employees for the tender process that is now underway.


The unions have also said that the NTA must effectively regulate private operators who breach workers’ conditions of employment.  This is not an IR matter between the unions and the two companies and is therefore not a valid basis for industrial action against them.  However, the NTA has already indicated at the LRC that it will develop a basic set of principles for inclusion in a Statement of Contractor Employment Standards for contractors on relevant Public Transport Service Contracts.


This would indicate that it is NTA policy to ensure contractor compliance with employment law and the Authority will apply a performance regime that would include performance deductions where breaches of SCES contract obligations have been verified and have not been rectified. The ultimate sanction for continual breaches of contractual obligation is termination of the contract.


The trade unions have stated that labour costs must not be a considering factor in the contract tendering process.  This is not an IR matter between the unions and the two companies and is therefore not a valid basis for industrial action against them.  Furthermore, this is not a provision that is used in tendering processes.


They have said that where legacy costs arise from lost tenders, workers must not be asked to fund these through restructuring.  The companies have already given this commitment and will restate it in discussions at the LRC.  In any event, legacy costs will not be significant because of growth in the overall market.


And they have said that Registered Employment Agreement for bus workers should be entered into by employers.  The Government has approved drafting of legislation on REAs and Sectoral Employment Orders which is due to be published within weeks.  Following enactment, it would be a matter for parties involved in the bus market as to whether they want to instigate discussions on an REA or approach the Labour Court for a Sectoral Employment Order.  This is not a valid basis for the current industrial action.


Thank you.