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Ross welcomes Dublin Bus talks, says both sides now need to be given "space"

Dublin Bus says that the ongoing strikes have already cost it €4 million.

Dublin Bus workers industrial action Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated 7.19pm

TRANSPORT MINISTER SHANE Ross has welcomed the fact that all sides in the Dublin Bus dispute are to meet at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) from tomorrow in an effort to end the ongoing strikes.

Dublin Bus services returned to normal today, but their resumption will be a brief respite for commuters unless talks at the WRC are successful.

The 48-hour work stoppage began after the last service departed at 9pm on Thursday night. Thirteen more days of strike action are planned for this month and October.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) now says that it will sit down at the WRC for “exploratory talks” tomorrow.

“I am pleased talks are due to take place between both sides at the Workplace Relations Commission,” Ross said in a brief statement today.

We now need to give the relevant institutions space to formulate an agreement that is fair and workable for both sides.

The minister has said at all times that he will not intervene in the dispute as it is not his place to do so.

Sticking point

NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said tomorrow’s talks will have no preconditions, which it seems was a sticking point for the relevant parties being willing to sit down with each other.

“Whilst the request to attend at talks without preconditions is something the trade unions have long been calling for, the fact is that our members are extremely angry that the inaction to date by the company and the Department of Transport has caused severe disruption to commuters and staff alike.

“The NBRU focus from the commencement of this dispute has been geared towards getting Dublin Bus to attend at discussions in order to address the fact that its own staff are deserving of a fair and adequate wage rise after eight long years of austerity enforced pay stagnation and pay cuts.”

Unions Siptu and Unite have both today also confirmed their attendance at tomorrow’s talks, with Siptu organiser Owen Reidy saying that the initial meeting will be “to see whether there is the basis for a meaningful negotiation between the parties”.

Reidy added that a decision regarding this week’s strikes, slated for Tuesday and Wednesday, will be made depending upon the progress made at tomorrow’s meeting.

Dublin Bus confirmed this afternoon that it would be attending tomorrow’s meeting.

In an earlier statement the company said:

“Dublin Bus services are operating as normal on all routes today, Sunday 25 September. This includes Airlink and sightseeing tours.

“We advise customers to visit our website, for information on refunds and updates on the dispute.”

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Commuters will be hit with another 48-hour stoppage this Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as a 24-hour stoppage next Saturday.

Actions will continue until 29 October. Unions have not yet said if they will continue striking if a deal isn’t reached.

The five unions representing the bus drivers are seeking a 15% pay increase over the next three years and a 6% rise they say they were due to get under an agreement in 2009, but which was deferred.

Unions rejected a Labour Court-recommended 8.25% increase over the next three years.

The company says that the strikes have already cost it €4 million and “continues to impact the financial stability of the company”.

Additional reporting Cianan Brennan

First published 8.27am

Read: Escalation: Dublin Bus drivers will strike for an additional 13 days

Read: Surge for taxis as Dublin Bus enters strike during the weekend

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