People Before Profit TD calls on Bus Eireann to withdraw planned cuts. Proposed plan an attack on unionised workers and public services says Brid Smith TD. Free travel scheme and public transport must be defended.
Brid Smith TD has called for Ray Hernan, acting CEO of Bus Eireann to withdraw what she described as “outrageous attacks on Bus Eireann workers and outright falsehoods been peddled in the media by the company”.
The TD was responding to the company’s proposed cost reduction plans and media reports emanating from management that there are 250 “idle drivers” in the company. (Sunday Business Post Jan 22/2017).
The TD claimed that the so called crisis is a manufactured one that comes from the Government underfunding the company and giving licences to private operators on intercity routes.
Deputy Smith stated today; “Firstly, these press briefings are a pathetic attempt to cover the real story which is long running under investment by the state in the national bus carrier and the ongoing campaign of the NTA to licence for-profit private operators who employ drivers at much reduced wages and conditions. They are no more than an attempt by Bus Eireann management to provide cover for the agenda of Minister Ross and the NTA of driving down wages, conditions and services on public transport”.
The TD claims that this is what lies at the centre of the so called crisis.
“Stories from Ray Hernan and Bus Eireann management that they have 250 idle drivers on any given day, or that they can cut €13 million in overtime with no impact on services are falsehoods for which he and his team will have to answer”.
The TD stated “You can’t operate a service with as geographically dispersed a pattern as they do without back up cover for drivers or without the ability to ask drivers to do overtime. If you cut either it will impact severely on the service. I will hold management to account on this, people will be left without services if this so called plan proceeds. The company needs to withdraw plans to cut pay or start hiring casual labour, no workforce can accept this kind of blackmail.”
The real cause of the problems, according to the TD, include a cut in subvention from 2009 to 2015 of 34% and an increase in the licencing of private operators by the NTA on intercity services that have hit Bus Eireann services.
The TD also defended the free travel scheme and claimed recent attacks on it where misguided and short sighted.
“Of course Bus Eireann do not recoup the true cost from the state of providing free travel for, among others, our elderly population. But this is a core social service and is an absolutely vital life line for many elderly people. Isolation and the difficulty of physically getting around are major problems for the elderly. Attacks and ill-considered statements about the free travel scheme ignore how vital it is. We should be encouraging more people onto public transport and insuring the services are there to meet that demand; something a for-profit system cannot do. It is no accident that free travel facilities are limited and often non-existent on private operated services.”
For confirmation- Nick Lee 0876156473 Brid Smith TD 0879090166