Jobs will be lost and shops will close if bus strike rumbles on - retail chief warns

Jobs will be lost and shops will close if bus strike rumbles on - retail chief warns
The Bus Eireann Strike at Capwell Bus Station, Cork.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

AS city retailers face a third weekend of decreased footfall, the Cork Business Association (CBA) has warned of shop closures and job losses if the bus strike rumbles on.

Talks between unions and Bus Éireann aimed at solving their dispute at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) show no sign of a breakthrough, despite continuing today.

“The last two weeks have had a serious impact on trade. We've heard figures between 25 and 50% in the effect it's having on footfall,” said Lawrence Owens, chief executive of the CBA.

“It's building up each day because some of these business can only last so long and you've got a lot of small indigenous businesses which are two-to-five-person operations. The clock is always ticking. The rent, rates, insurance and staff costs — they all have to be paid.

“Revenue is down and when you do the maths, something has got to give,” he added.

Mr Owens said it was not the place of the CBA to comment on the industrial dispute, but he warned it was causing huge commercial damage in Cork city.

Several city retailers have expressed their anger as they face losses of earnings. Tom Dwyer, owner of The Cobbler shop on Oliver Plunkett Street, said business has been “dreadful” this week. “You look up and down the street, there isn’t a sinner in the place,” he said.

Idaho Café owner Richard Jacobs published an open letter to the Government on social media calling on them to sort out the strike. “For Dublin, this means a mild inconvenience to weekend plans. For the rest of Ireland it means rather more,” he said. “Elderly country dwellers who have watched their post offices close, their garda stations close and their pubs close, are now completely isolated. People trying to get to work, get to elusive hospital appointments, or just to a shop, are having to pay heavily for taxis or hope for the generosity of a neighbour.

“Cities like Cork have no public transport at all. I am utterly depressed by the appalling mismanagement of our country by a group of self-serving incompetents. You are allowing a city to die and, with it, the hopes and dreams of its entrepreneurs

“Sort out this strike and try and regain the respect of a nation who deserve leadership and strength, not self-serving squabbles,” he added.

City entrepreneur Jamie O’Sullivan tweeted a series of pictures showing Patrick Street, Daunt Square and Paul Street all virtually deserted.

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