Bus strike causes commuter chaos
By Brendan Grehan
OVER 400,000 passengers in Dublin woke up this morning to find that they had to use alternative modes of transport as Dublin Bus workers first series of 48 hour strikes started.
Services actually stopped at 9pm on Wednesday night as Dublin Bus wanted to have all vehicles back at their depots before midnight.
The industrial dispute is related to staff demands for a pay increase in excess of the 8.25% over three years recommended by the Labour Court.
The unions rejected the recommendation and indicated they want 15% over the same period as well as the payment of a 6% increase, due from 2008. The Unions accused Dublin Bus of “chicanery” in ending services at 9pm.
The Unions claim that drivers had committed to completing their shifts, even if it meant returning buses to garages after the strike starts at 12.01am.
National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary said Dublin Bus seemed determined to unnecessarily ratchet up the pressure on its own customers to make alternative arrangements at short notice so as to paint its own staff in a bad light.
He added: “It is nothing short of incredible that the company and its paymasters would resort to such chicanery.They would be far better served if they saw fit to come back to the table and engage with staff in order to prevent this dispute.”
Owen Reidy, Siptu divisional organiser, said the intransigence of the company and the Department of Transport meant has said there was a risk Dublin Bus would enter a “long and damaging period of industrial conflict”.
He said: “Since our members overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action last month there has been no engagement with the Department of Transport or Dublin Bus management, apart from a one-hour meeting.
“At that meeting, management simply informed our union representatives it was not willing to improve on the terms of a Labour Court recommendation which had already been categorically rejected by our members.”
One local commuter contacted The Echo to say that she wasn’t sure how she would get to work today from West Dublin to Swords.
She said: “I don’t know how I will get to work. I can’t afford a taxi. Maybe I will have to call in sick”.
Another commuter from Lucan told The Echo that she was at her wits end.
She said: “In Lucan we can’t rely on the Luas or the Dart. I don’t know how I’m going to get around. At least things will be back to normal on Saturday until the next one.”
Local Deputy and Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Dublin, John Lahart called on the Department of Transport to open bus lanes to all users during the strike.
He said: “If the strikes are to go ahead, it is incumbent on the Department of Transport to allow all roads users, including motorists, to use the empty bus lanes.
Massive gridlock is likely to ensue in the city over the next two days and this rationale will not assist the thousands of commuters struggling to make it to work, schools or hospitals.”.
Meanwhile An Garda Siochana reminded motorists that all bus lanes will operate as normal during the strike and will be used by other public service vehicles , emergency service vehicles and cyclists.
The Spokesperson added: “Traffic is expected to be extremely heavy on commuter routes, especially during morning and evening peaks.
There will be an increase in the number of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians on the roads. An Garda Síochána appeal to all road users to take extra care on their journey”.