SIPTU drivers in Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann will conduct 24-hour work stoppages on Friday, 1st May, Saturday, 2nd May, Friday, 15th May and Saturday, 16th May.
The decision to engage in strike action by over 1,500 drivers follows a refusal by the management of both companies to meet with workers to discuss their major concerns over plans to privatise 10% of bus routes during 2016.
Announcing the major escalation of the SIPTU members campaign to defend the public transport system, SIPTU Construction and Utilities Division Organiser, Owen Reidy, said: “The privatisation plan being promoted by the National Transport Authority (NTA) is driven by ideological concerns rather than a focus on improving services. Privatisation of these routes will be a bad deal for the citizen and tax payer, the travelling public and indeed the workers who provide these services.”
He added: “SIPTU has engaged in Labour Relations Commission facilitated talks with all the relevant stakeholders for the last nine months. These talks collapsed during April when the bus companies and NTA refused to answer a number of serious concerns about job security raised by SIPTU members.”
The four days of strike action, during which drivers will mount picket lines outside bus depots across the country, will be financially hard hitting for the workers involved but they state that they have been left with no option.
SIPTU activist and Dublin Bus worker director, Bill McCamley, told Liberty:, “In the 40 years I have worked on the buses I’ve seen nothing comparable to the threat that the service currently faces.
“Privatisation is billed as something that will benefit the community but it won’t. The State subventions will end up being higher and the service less. That is because what a public bus company puts back into the service will be gone in private profits.”
The NTA privatisation proposals would see 10% of Dublin Bus routes and nearly all Bus Éireann services in Waterford transferred to private companies.
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “Despite claims by the pro-privatisation lobby that there is a legal requirement from the EU for this privatisation plan that has been shown not to be the case.
“State support for bus services has been significantly reduced in recent years, while workers have maintained, and in many cases improved, services. The reality is for a proper integrated public transport system to operate and cater for the needs of society and the economy it requires state support, not privatisation.”
McCamley added: “SIPTU drivers are clear that the privatisation agenda is really about reducing workers terms and conditions of employment and breaking up a successful public service so that profits can be generated for the private sector. These are moves that SIPTU members will resolutely oppose.”