On Friday 24 March, workers at Irish bus and coach operator Bus Eireann began an indefinite all-out strike. Five trade unions representing 2,600 workers, including SIPTU and the National Bus & Rail Union (NBRU) have called the action. Pickets outside bus stations were organised throughout the Republic. On the first day of action rail services were disrupted as workers refused to cross picket lines. One week into the strike and more unofficial picketing has seen nearly all Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Dublin Bus services cancelled.
Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE) is the Republic’s national public transport provider, comprising Bus Eireann, Iarnrod Eireann (Irish Rail) and Dublin Bus. Management at Bus Eireann have produced a “survival plan” that would result in wage cuts, casualisation and threats to hundreds of jobs. There has been no consultation with the union.
SIPTU Organiser Willie Noone said that “Management wish to prepare the company for the future privatisation of public bus services by concentrating draconian cuts on ordinary workers”, and that at stake is not just the jobs and conditions of transport workers but “the destruction of a public service which is essential in connecting communities throughout Ireland”.
Representatives from all three transport sectors have met, and have given a mandate for a ballot on industrial action to be held by Iarnrod Eireann and Dublin Bus workers. This potential solidarity action is absolutely necessary, as any success for management at Bus Eireann will put other branches of the transport system into the firing line, while successful national transport strike would be a real game changer in the battle against years of draconian austerity in Ireland.