Statement by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar on Bus Éireann in Dáil Éireann on Thursday 2nd May

 
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Bus Éireann is in a very difficult financial position. It has incurred accumulated losses of €27 million in the last five years, a position which is unsustainable and places the viability of the company at risk.
 
In June 2012, the company announced its business recovery plan with savings of €20 million targeted to bring the company back to profitability in 2013. Approximately €9 million of savings were to come from terms and conditions, and €11 million from operational savings. Although much of the operational savings have been delivered, no progress has been made on savings from terms and conditions despite the involvement of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court in the process. Without the necessary savings from changes to terms and conditions and on-going inter-city service changes, Bus Éireann is facing annual losses of more than €11 million, which are simply not sustainable.
 
According to the Labour Court and the trade unions’ own independent financial assessors, Bus Éireann is in a precarious financial situation with the very viability of the company under threat. The Labour Court, in its recommendation of 8th February last, concluded that significant reductions in the company’s cost base including payroll costs are essential to ensure its future and protect employment within the company. Under the company’s business recovery plan and the Labour Court recommendation, there would be no reductions to core pay or employment levels. 
 
It is important to emphasise that these issues have been through the full industrial relations machinery of the State, culminating in a Labour Court recommendation which recognised that the savings had to be made in order to protect the continued employment of the staff.  Before implementing the recommendation, the company engaged further with the unions through the Labour Relations Commission to see if any alternative measures could be identified which would deliver the same amount of savings. This process did not identify any alternative whatsoever.
 
Now, 11 months after deliberations started and three months after the Labour Court recommendation was issued, the company simply can’t postpone the implementation any longer. I’m assured that it will engage with the unions at any time to discuss alternative approaches, but until and unless these are agreed, the 12th May implementation must proceed.
 
The future of the company needs to be secured, for the public who depend on its services and for the benefit of its employees. Bus Éireann runs commercial Expressway Services which are currently loss making and legally the State cannot support these services. The viability of these services can only be secured if these savings are now achieved. 
 
I very much hope that management and unions use the period until the 12th May to engage in further dialogue which can ensure that the necessary savings are introduced and the provision of bus services for the public are protected.
 
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Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport: 01 604 1087 / 01 604 1007