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'They're effectively stealing annual holidays': Dublin Bus drivers ordered to take annual leave during Covid-19 crisis

Richard Boyd Barrett said he believes the policy being implemented is “hugely unfair”.
Apr 1st 2020, 3:58 PM 94,861 115

WORKERS AT DUBLIN Bus have been told that they must take annual leave during the Covid-19 crisis, which one TD described as “effectively stealing their annual holidays”.

A number of drivers have contacted People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett and said management told them many of their annual leave days must be taken during this period.

Boyd Barrett was contacted by a number of bus workers last night angered by the move and posted their concerns on social media. He has since received a flood of messages from other bus workers and workers in other sectors who are being similarly forced to take their annual leave.

Correspondence to drivers, seen by TheJournal.ie, reads: “From 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020, all drivers will be allocated one day’s annual leave per week (to a maximum of 10 days for a five-day a week drivers and 8 days for 4 day a week drivers). This will be reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure business continuity.”

A notice to National Bus and Rail Union members regarding the situation has also been sent to Dublin Bus management.

It reads: “Not surprisingly, the notion that the drivers would forfeit annual leave to the extent that they may end up with no leave for their family holiday is untenable.

I am extremely conscious of the environment we are currently operating within, I am also aware that alternatives to the Leave proposal might not be palatable to a significant amount of drivers, but, as you will appreciate, my role is to act as a conduit for my members, their views will have to be taken onboard. 

Boyd Barrett said he believes the policy being implemented is not fair on staff. He said: “I really think this a hugely unfair thing to do to essential workers, like bus workers, who are putting their health on the line to keep an essential service going, not least to ensure that our health workers and other front-line essential workers can get work.

“I think it is not right to effectively steal the annual holidays from either essential workers who continue to work for us all, or from workers who are contributing to the public health effort to defeat Covid-19 by staying at home.

“Moves such as this threaten to undermine the huge collective effort, solidarity and good-will being displayed by hundreds and hundreds of thousands of workers and the public in general, who are all contributing in different ways towards defeating the virus and protecting our health services and society.

Boyd Barrett added that he understands from advice he has received from legal experts and his own understanding of the law, that the moves made by Dublin Bus and other employers may be illegal, as they contravene provisions of the Organisation of Working Time Act.

Under the Act, employers are supposed to give workers at least a month’s notice if they are directing them to take leave, and any such move requires consultation with the workers or their union and is supposed to take into account a workers ability to gain necessary rest and recreation.

Dublin Bus has been contacted for comment. 

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Garreth MacNamee

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