19 February 2009 Edition
Nuacht na nOibrithe
Bus workers to strike
DUBLIN BUS and Bus Éireann workers will begin a series of strikes on 28 February in protest at hundreds of job cuts, the National Bus and Rail Union said on Tuesday.
Around 2,500 bus drivers may take part in the strike, bringing public bus services across the 26 Counties to a standstill.
A further two-day strike is planned on 9 and 10 March if Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, do not negotiate on driver job cuts, fleet reductions and the closure of routes.
The Executive Council of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) met to discuss the plans for industrial action which are backed by 88 per cent of the 3,200 workers they represent. Bus drivers represented by SIPTU have also voted in favour of industrial action.
The state’s bus companies want to shed 270 vehicles from their fleet, which would lead to over 600 workers being put out of their jobs.
The two companies have said that they must make cutbacks as the recession has led to a decline in passenger numbers and they will lay-off 160 probationary drivers in March and make 110 contracted drivers redundant after that.
NBRU General Secretary Michael Faherty said workers are anxious to act to prevent the cutbacks. He said that workers want a voluntary redundancy scheme in place before cutbacks were introduced.
Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has met NBRU leaders in Dublin City Hall to discuss the cutbacks, which she described as “a bad decision for workers, for public service delivery, and for the environment”.
She added that it is an indictment of the Government’s refusal to properly invest in a public transport service through progressive policy.
Dublin Sinn Féin is holding a Day of Action on the Dublin Bus cuts on 28 February to coincide with the one-day stoppage.
Stockbrokers call for social welfare cuts
IN a report titled A Rocky Road Ahead, Goodbody Stockbrokers have said that the economy will contract by 6 per cent this year and the Government will have to make “unpalatable” decisions in relation to social welfare payments and rates of pay in the public sector.
The report also proposes that the Government would also need to increase tax rates and widen the tax base, saying “the burden of closing the gap on the Exchequer deficit will have to be shared between spending cuts and tax increases”.
On the issue of social welfare payments it said:
“Due to falling prices, it is possible to decrease payments without cutting the real value of payments.”
This caveat is unlikely to provide relief to the many thousands who have recently become unemployed and are unable to find work or those facing redundancy.
Swissco workers picket plant
SEVENTY-FIVE workers formerly employed by the ready-meal manufacturing company Swissco picketed their former workplace this week over receiving statutory redundancy payments since being let go. The company had agreed to pay the workers two weeks’ pay per year of service in the Labour Court.
The company closed up in December without giving any notice or payments to the workers. SIPTU later secured one week’s wages as payment from the liquidator of Swissco.
Alan O’Leary, a trade union representative for the workers, said:
“This has to be one of the first occasions where a company in question gave a commitment to the workforce and the union that there was an agreement to do a severance agreement and then frankly abandoned the workforce.”