SIPTU representatives appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications today (Wednesday, 15th January) called for a “real public debate” on the proposed privatisation of up to 10% of Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus routes. SIPTU Utilities and Construction Division Organiser, Owen Reidy, described the decision by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to tender out the routes as “seriously flawed.”He added: “We are concerned that there has been a lack of real public debate on this critical matter which will have an impact on both the travelling public and workers in both commercial semi-state companies.”SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said the planned privatisation of routes would have severe adverse effects.“It is our view that private bus operators will not want to employ Bus Éireann/Dublin Bus staff on their current employment conditions as this will have employment equality consequences for their current staff. Bus Éireann/Dublin Bus staff will not be willing to transfer as their pensions are not protected and Bus Éireann/Dublin Bus are not in a financial position to pay adequate suitable severance packages.”He added: “The public transport service is there to serve all the community, including those in outlying rural areas, pensioners, the disabled and other vulnerable groups. A privatised for profit service will not continue this ethos.”SIPTU Organiser, John Murphy, said that it was questionable why the privatisation agenda was still being pushed despite current Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus services meeting the Key Performance Indicator targets set by the NTA.“The UK experience shows that when you have a fractured national bus service with multiple operators and where contracts are awarded at short intervals the result is that compliance levels drop and passenger confidence in the system of public transport also dissipates. This will also prevail in this jurisdiction should this flawed and unnecessary ideologically driven approach occur. It is evident on this item that the NTA is proposing to fix an issue that is not broken and in which the two CIE companies are excelling according to independent auditors.”