BUS Éireann has said there has been “absolutely no discussion” about employees in Cork who refuse to handle cash.
It comes as claims have been made that some drivers said they were threatened with disciplinary action for not handling money from the public.
Cork North Central TD Mick Barry called on Bus Éireann management to withdraw any threats of disciplinary action, and said that in some cases bus drivers were working without adequate supplies of sanitiser, while some buses have no protective screen between the driver and members of the public.
“In my opinion Bus Éireann should kick on from it and provide a free service for the duration of the crisis,” Mr Barry said.
“But if they’re not prepared to do that then the least they should do is to stop threatening drivers who are taking action to protect their health, the health of their work colleagues and the health of the general public.”
The National Bus and Rail Union said they had issued advice to bus drivers on the issue of handling cash, and said they “fully support any worker that chooses not to handle cash during this unprecedented public health crisis” and would not allow a driver to be disciplined for this reason.
“The NBRU issued such advices to reflect both the different types of operations and customer interaction across the Bus Éireann Network and in recognition of the fact that Bus Éireann operates a direct award contract for the NTA, and it also operates an Expressway service that is solely dependent on passenger revenue,” an NBRU spokesperson said.
They went on to say that the NBRU “would strongly contend that Bus Éireann is now in fact operating a type of social contract with citizens through its Expressway Service, when many other Bus Companies are gone into Hibernation.”
Bus Éireann, meanwhile, said that the safety of their staff, customers and wider community is of paramount importance.
“Supplies of hand sanitising gel and wipes have been provided for all employees. Additional supplies were distributed to bus stations and depots around the country earlier this week and we continue to re-order stocks of these through our suppliers,” a spokesperson for the company said.
When asked to confirm whether the company had threatened disciplinary action on employees who refused to handle cash, he said: “We continue to work closely with our employees and trade union representatives on all matters pertaining to Covid-19.
“While cash is still accepted as a means of payment, we are actively encouraging customers to reduce the handling of cash where possible by buying their ticket online at www.buseireann.ie, through a ticket vending machine or with a Leap card.
“There has been absolutely no discussion concerning employees who do not adhere to this policy.”
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