SIPTU representatives have today (Monday, 6th March) placed the safeguarding of decent full-time jobs, the protection of routes serving rural communities and the preservation of local bus garages to the fore at talks at the Workplace Relation Commission (WRC) concerning the Bus Éireann dispute. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “Bus Éireann workers are determined to play their part in resolving this dispute but not at the expense of their terms and conditions of employment which they have fought hard to secure over many long years. Our plan is to ensure that decent full-time jobs remain, that routes serving rural communities remain and that garages providing local sustainable employment remain.” Noone added that part of the solution to the crisis in public transport was the establishment of a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for bus workers and increased Travel Pass Scheme funding. “For the last two years, SIPTU representatives have been working towards the creation of a SEO for the bus sector. Such an order would protect bus drivers’ terms and conditions in both the public and private sectors. It has been the longstanding positon of SIPTU that such a SEO is essential in order to end the race to the bottom in the sector, which is not only pushing drivers and their families into hardship but will also begin to have an adverse impact on the safety of the travelling public. “Agreement on the creation of a such an order, under the provisions of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015, has been a key aim of SIPTU representatives since the launch of our campaign against plans to privatise some public bus routes in early 2015.” He added: “Our representatives are also seeking the bringing forward of an increase in funding for the Travel Pass Scheme, which Minster for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, has stated he is considering implementing in January 2018. If this increase adequately reflects the public service provided by Bus Éireann to vulnerable sectors of our society who have been granted the right to be part of the Travel Pass Scheme it will go a long way in solving the immediate funding issues that the company faces. “Our representatives at these talks are committed to working with all the interested parties towards solutions that will protect the operation of a public bus service throughout rural Ireland.”