Dublin Bus strike averted
BY ROBBIE MacGABHANN
Dublin Bus management took commuters and drivers to the brink this week by only at the last minute agreeing to begin substantive talks with the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), after pickets had been placed at the city's bus depots.
All through Monday, 21 February, talks between management and the NBRU continued. The central issue was that the NBRU wanted management to actually begin negotiations on their 20% wage claim. Bus driver wages in Dublin are substantially lower than other EU states.
The talks had broken down at 3am after management insisted that the wage claim could be only be negotiated in the context of a new productivity agreement. The NBRU has already negotiated six productivity agreements with Dublin Bus since 1987.
Dublin Bus have agreed to give a flat rate increase of £15 a week to drivers for the duration of negotiations. This represents a 7% increase for drivers on the basic starting rate.
The central issue that still has to be dealt with is that in order to finance the needed wage increase there will have to be an increase in the government's subvention to the company. At just 6%, the state subvention is the lowest for public transport in the EU. This issue has still not been dealt with and could ultimately cause the talks that begin this week at the Labour Relations Commission to fail.