SIPTU has this afternoon (Friday, 24th January) released to its membership a series of steps which would assist in ending the strike by Bus Éireann workers and resolve the wider crisis in the public transport network. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “SIPTU members in Bus Éireann began an indefinite all out-strike action and placed pickets on bus stations across the country today (Friday, 24th March). The workers are deeply concerned about the inconvenience being endured by the travelling public due to the strike action but they believe they have no other option. “This afternoon three basic steps which would assist in ending the strike at Bus Éireann and resolving the wider crisis in the public transport network were distributed to tens of thousands of SIPTU members across the country. “The steps include the establishment of a Sectoral Employment Order for bus workers. Such an order would protect bus drivers’ terms and conditions of employment in both the public and private sectors. It would mean that any competition between Bus Éireann and private operators would be based on the quality and efficiency of the service provided and not on driving down workers’ pay and conditions. “Another key issue is funding. Bus Éireann is mandated by the National Transport Agency to provide services on Public Service Obligation routes – these are routes that are not profitable commercially but are socially important as they connect rural communities together. Bus Éireann also provides transport to hundreds of thousands of Travel Pass Scheme participants free of charge on a daily basis. This is a crucial service for vulnerable groups and the elderly in our society. “However, the State funding, known as subvention, for Bus Éireann was cut by 35% between 2009 and 2015, from €50 million to €33.7 million. This funding must be increased so that Bus Éireann can continue to provide essential public transport services. He added: “SIPTU representatives want to engage in meaningful negotiations concerning far-reaching change and improvements in the public bus network. In order for these talks to be effective they must include direct input from the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport. SIPTU members in Bus Éireann want a solution to the current dispute and to return to work as soon as possible.”