SIPTU representatives have stated that Bus Éireann management have directly threatened the future of school bus services operated by the company, following the presentation of a pay claim by the union at the Workplace Relations Commission, today (Wednesday, 25th January). SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “The claim made was for a reasonable increase in pay for the 400 school bus drivers directly employed by Bus Éireann. The claim takes into account wages within the sector which the drivers operate and recent pay increases for other transport workers. It was also pointed out that the Acting CEO of Bus Éireann is on the public record as stating that a 3% per year increase would be available for the lowest paid workers in the company. “Previously, Bus Éireann has acknowledged that the payment of school bus drivers is fully funded by the Department of Education and Skills and, as such, they have been dealt with separately for pay purposes. However, today management clearly indicated that these services are now under threat due to the financial difficulties at the company and that the security of employment ofschool bus drivers cannot be guaranteed in circumstances where Bus Éireann as an entity does not survive.” Willie Noone added: “It is astounding that even through the costs of bringing children to school in rural areas is currently fully refunded by the State, management is stating that workers delivering this service are not worthy of a pay increase and their employment is threatened. “Management has requested time to reflect on our members’ claim amid the real possibility that school bus drivers will have to resort to industrial action to protect their jobs and the services they provide. It was agreed that the company should be given a reasonable timeframe to reflect on the issues raised and its position. A further engagement has been scheduled for early March.”