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Bus drivers prepare to take to the picket lines

CORK bus drivers are preparing to take to the picket lines while the threat of industrial action in schools has also been raised. 

Union officials in Cork have warned that proposals from Bus Éireann to cut worker's terms will 'never be acceptable.'

The warning came just hours after bus drivers nationwide confirmed an all-out strike, starting on February 20.

John Moloney, a Cork bus driver and president of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), said that drivers were left with no alternative but to strike after Bus Éireann 'set their stall out' this week.

A series of cost-cutting measures, including wage cuts, were unveiled by the beleaguered transport provider this week in a bid to save €30 million.

In response, bus workers confirmed an indefinite strike, commencing on February 20, the day the cuts were due to come into force.

National officials now say that Bus Éireann has two weeks to resolve the issue before the industrial action goes ahead.

Mr Moloney said, "The company set their stall out this week. They are going to slash people's terms and conditions as of February 20.

"We were left with no other option. There will be an all-out strike - we will go with it indefinitely. These cuts are a disgraceful step to take in a modern country."

The Cork driver said that the union are still optimistic that discussions can take place before they commence industrial action, but warns that the proposed cuts have to be off the table before drivers will sit down with management.

"Worse things than this have been resolved through dialogue," Mr Moloney said.

"But in doing this, the company has set preconditions to the talks.

These cuts are totally unacceptable and they never will be acceptable."

Union officials nationally have warned that the industrial action could spread to other transport providers, including Irish Rail and Dublin Bus.

Mr Moloney said, "We could be looking at cross-country, all-out transport stoppages. This is an unprecedented situation."

Meanwhile, the threat of industrial action in secondary schools has been reignited after ASTI members voted to continue their campaign for equal pay for more recently qualified teachers.

In ballot results issued yesterday, 52.5% of members voted to continue the campaign on a 75% turnout.

While the margin of the ballot was close, it still means that ASTI members have given the green light to their union to continue the campaign for pay restoration and against a variety of austerity measures, and to continue that campaign outside of the Lansdowne Road Agreement framework.