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'For some reason in this country, you actually have to go on strike before people take you seriously'

Today is the first day of a two-day action for Dublin Bus drivers.

Updated 11.04 am

DUBLIN BUS SERVICES stopped last night but the 48-hour bus strike by staff officially started this morning.

Several hundred thousand commuters have been affected by the strike, with other forms of public transport seeing an increase in users across the capital. Irish Rail cautioned this morning that many services were running at peak capacity.

The two-day action is the first of three 48-hour strikes that will take place over the next three weeks. The other strike days are on 15, 16, 23 and 24 September.

Drivers’ unions blamed the 9pm start to the disruption last night on the company, with Dublin Bus claiming it wanted the buses back in their depots before the 12am start to the strike.

Either way, there are no buses in the capital today or tomorrow as the drivers take industrial action over pay.

Drivers on the picket this morning are insisting that they don’t want to be on strike but have been forced into the position.

“It’s disappointing, nobody wants to be on strike. We all have mortgages and bills to pay and we don’t get paid when we’re out on strike so it is disappointing,” said Tom O’Connor, a bus driver of five years.

On the other hand it’s something that has to be done. It’s the 1st of July 2008 since Dublin Bus workers got a pay rise so it’s long overdue.

Payroll figures show that workers haven’t seen increases since 2008 and Siptu activist of the Dublin Bus Drivers Committee Stephen Hannan says that Irish workers are not “taken seriously” unless they take industrial action.

“For some reason in this country, not only in Dublin Bus, it seems to be the in thing that you actually have to go on strike before people take you seriously,” he says.

“It’s across the nation at the moment, people just don’t seem to take any notice until you take some kind of industrial action.”

Gardaí have told motorists that the driver stoppage does not mean that motorists can use bus lanes and warned that motorists can and will be prosecuted for doing so.

They are also warning motorists that traffic in the capital is expected to be extremely heavy on commuter routes during peak hours.

Iarnród Éireann is also advising passengers using Dart and commuter services that bus tickets will not accepted on trains during the strike.

The strike comes about after unions rejected a Labour Court recommended 8.25% increase over the next three years.

08/09/2016. Dublin Bus Strike. Pictured Dublin Bus Dublin Bus drivers at the Ringsend depot this morning. Source: Sam Boal

This increase is below the 18.3% in increases offered to Luas drivers after their pay dispute. Bus workers are looking for an increase that’s closer to 15%.

The company says it is unable to consider an increase above the Labour Court recommendation.

Drivers say that the strike is not because of the Luas dispute but that the Labour Court recommendation was disappointing in that context.

“The benchmark was set with the Luas at 18.3% and it’s disappointing that the same Labour Court that recommended 18.3% for the Luas workers only recommended 8.25% for bus workers,” O’Connor said this morning,

Unions also claim that the government subventioned to Dublin Bus has been “slashed” in recent years and needs to be increased.

Speaking yesterday, Transport Minister Shane Ross said the government can’t “open the cheque book” to fix the strike.

Poll: Do you support the Dublin Bus drivers’ strike? >

Read: Dublin Bus drivers to strike for six days in September >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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