A LARGE group of Bus Eireann workers picketed Cork City Hall last night, calling on councillors to put pressure on their colleagues in Dáil Eireann to help end the ongoing dispute.
Up to 100 workers crowded outside the building in advance of the city council meeting – an action which resulted in the council passing an emergency motion in support of their plight.
“We were trying to catch the councillors going into the meeting because the Dáil is sitting on Wednesday and Transport Minister Shane Ross, the famous Mr Ross that won’t speak to us, we’re hoping to get the councillors to put pressure on their colleagues in Government so that they can put pressure on him,” said Gerry O’Donovan from the Cork branch of the National Bus and Rail Union.
“It’s getting very serious now. Bus Eireann workers have been on strike for four days now and there’s nothing at all going on to resolve this. We expect action on Wednesday and we’ll be highly disappointed if we don’t get it.” Mr O’Donovan said he is a bus driver himself and is personally looking at losses of €146 a week if the proposed Bus Eireann cuts go ahead as planned.
Stephen McKelvey, chairman of the Cork branch of the NBRU, said there is no way members are going to go back to work for €146 less a week than they are currenty getting, and are “in this for the long haul”.
“At the end of the day, this is a fight for every worker in the country. This is a big fight for everybody. We don’t want this to go on, but we are here for as long as it takes,” he said.
At last night’s council meeting, Sinn Fein councillor Mick Nugent put forward an emergency motion asking that the authority call on Minister Ross to intervene in the dispute. The motion was passed by the council with a unanimous vote.
“We’re calling on Minister Shane Ross to directly intervene to try and resolve this dispute. Part of this motion says we feel any resolution should also be about protecting the pay and the rights and the conditions of the workers but also that public transport needs to be supported as well,” said Cllr Nugent.
“It should be a right of all the citizens in Ireland, whether rural or urban, to have access to public transport. It should just be about profit and loss margins, it should be about a public service.”