SIPTU will oppose a National Transport Authority (NTA) plan to privatise 10% of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann routes that would severely damage the companies’ ability to continue to provide a nationwide public transport system. According to the plans announced by the NTA yesterday (Wednesday, 11th September) all bus services in Waterford city, some in Cork and the south east region, as well as a certain portion of Dublin commuter routes are to be put to tender for operation by private companies in 2016. SIPTU Transport Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “The CIE Group of Companies are charged with providing nationwide transport services to the populated and not so populated parts of our country. They are provided with an ever-diminishing Government subvention allowance to do so. The notion of privatising populated routes, which help to support transport services to the more rural parts of Ireland, is a contradiction and a seriously flawed strategy.”He added: “Workers in Bus Éireann have just completed an agreement on pay savings and efficiency measures to support the company’s future and their jobs. For them to learn in this manner that the NTA, with obvious Government support, intends to privatise 10% of routes undertaken by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus is wholly unacceptable.” Willie Noone said SIPTU would mount a steadfast campaign against the NTA privatisation plans.“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister and Department of Transport officials to discuss the unacceptable nature of the NTA plans.”He added: “CIE employees and SIPTU will ensure that this becomes a major issue in the lead up to next year’s Local and European elections. SIPTU District Committees in each county will be involved in the lobbying campaign and will ensure that local communities are fully informed about this threat to public transport services and jobs.”Willie Noone welcomed the Government approved initiative by ICTU and IBEC to resolve the Dublin Bus dispute, which was also announced yesterday.However, he added: “Finding a negotiated settlement to the dispute at Dublin Bus will be made all the more difficult by the announcement of the NTA privatisation plan.”