Up to 1,000 public transport workers and their supporters marched to Leinster House at lunchtime today (Wednesday, 29th March) in support of a demand by Bus Éireann strikers for the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to establish a process that can effectively deal with the issues at the company. The transport workers and their supporters held a rally outside Leinster House at 1.00 p.m. just prior to the appearance of the Minister before the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Transport, Tourism and Sport. Workers from Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Irish Rail as well as politicians from most political parties attended the event. Addressing the rally, SIPTU Transport, Energy, Aviation and Construction Division Organiser, Greg Ennis, said: “The State must provide a public bus service and not a for-profit bus service. It found €64 billion for the banks and global investors who lost their money through gambling and greed but it can’t find €9 million for a bus service that the rural people of Ireland depend on.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “The Minister must stop dodging his responsibilities to both workers and the travelling public and make an effective intervention in the Bus Éireann dispute. “SIPTU representatives want to engage in meaningful negotiations concerning far-reaching change and improvements in the public bus network. However, for these talks to be effective the Minister must establish a process that allows for direct input from the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport as well as management and workers’ representatives.” He added: “We need a Sectoral Employment Order for the industry which 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.” Among the other speakers to address the rally was NBRU General Secretary, Dermot O’Leary, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes, Unite General Secretary, Jimmy Kelly and SIPTU Bus Éireann worker, Georgina Kerslake.