SIPTU members in Bus Éireann commenced an indefinite all out-strike action on Friday (24th March) at 12.01 a.m. and placed pickets on bus stations across the country in a dispute over cuts to pay, the casualisation of work and the threat of job losses at the company. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “That our members have been forced to take this action is regrettable but it is necessary in order to protect public transport services into the future. Our members know that there is no silver bullet that will provide a solution to the issues faced by Bus Éireann. However, in the absence of management presenting a sustainable or equitable plan for the future of the company, which is agreed with workers, it has left our members with no option but to commence strike action. “The real agenda of management at Bus Éireann is clear. Management wish to prepare the company for the future privatisation of public bus services by concentrating draconian cuts on ordinary workers. This so-called drive for ‘efficiencies’ is clearly due to pressure being applied on the company, as it stated in correspondence to workers yesterday that for it to retain directly awarded Public Service Obligation routes in 2019 it must become more ‘competitive’. What this means is that the company must be able to undercut private bus operators. Many of the employees of such private bus companies depend of state welfare payments to survive. “Our members will not accept the destruction of a public service which is essential in connecting communities throughout Ireland. Any changes or payroll reductions must be equitable and management, who played a huge role in creating the company’s current financial predicament, must make a substantial contribution.” He added: “This dispute has the potential to shape the future of public transport in Ireland for workers and the public. SIPTU members will vigorously defend the maintenance of a public transport system which provides an efficient public service and is provided by workers who have decent terms and conditions of employment. “SIPTU remains available to participate in meaningful negotiations on the future of the public bus network. In order to effectively achieve this aim such discussions must have direct input from the National Transport Authority and Department of Transport as well as management and workers’ representatives.”