SIPTU has condemned an attempt by the management of Bus Éireann to blame its hard pressed drivers for its own failures in relation to services in the east of the country. In media briefings today, Bus Eireann has claimed that the cancellation of certain bus services is due to ‘driver absenteeism’. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “The attempt by the management of Bus Éireann to place all of the blame on its drivers for the poor service being provided to the travelling public in the east of the country is deplorable. Our members made the company aware prior to the schedule changes that it announced recently that they could not be operated as advertised. “Management was made aware that all the necessary drivers had not been route trained, it knew that certain journeys could not be done in the times allocated and that rosters showing people working through the night on shifts of nearly 13-hours duration were not workable. “The issue of giving short breaks to drivers in remote locations, which did not allow drivers the chance to either avail of a toilet break or indeed take a rest period in line with legal requirements, had also been highlighted. Management must have known that drivers would have to abide by driving regulations and prior to imposing these new schedules were certainly aware of absenteeism rates.” He added: “Despite these objections regarding the inoperability of the new schedules and a shortage in numbers, Bus Éireann drivers still attempted to provide a good service. This was done due to their commitment to service users as well as to maintain the viability of the company and secure their jobs. “Ironically, despite these attempts by the drivers to maintain services they now find themselves targeted for blame by a management which should be accepting responsibility for its own gross incompetence. This is not an acceptable situation and our members throughout Bus Éireann wish the true state of affairs to be widely known.”