The bus strike that left Cork city at a standstill for 21 days is finally over with Bus Éireann drivers returning to work with the Labour Court issuing its recommendations on the dispute.
Cork's 330 buses and 170 drivers will now be back on the road and National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) President, and Cork bus driver, John Moloney said he expects full services to be in operation by midday on Friday as drivers had been given permission return to work immediately.
City centre traders expressed their relief that the strike had reached a climax. Richard Jacobs of Idaho Café said it was important that people knew that the city was open for business.
“I'm just delighted that it's over and hopefully if something happens again it will be resolved an awful lot faster at Dublin speeds, not out of Dublin speeds,” he said.
“I hope our regulars will come back and I think as long as people haven't changed their habits, they will. Cork is open for business and welcoming people with open arms,” he added.
Owner of Bradley's off licence, Michael Creedon, said that while he was happy the industrial action had ended, he was unsure if business would return to normal levels as shopping habits had changed.
“I reckon business was down by about 40% and I know that specific people that come into me every week weren't coming in when the strike was on. My fear is that even though the buses are back on, are those people just going to hop back on the bus and come back into this shop," he said.
“I'm not sure they will because after three weeks, people don't stop living, their lives go on and they find other things to do and other places to go, so we can't be sure they'll all come back,” he added.
NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said that “cultural change” within the company prompted the drivers to return to work.
“We will now move immediately into a consultative phase with our members across Bus Éireann in order that they will be fully informed in advance of casting their ballot on the fundamental issues contained in the recommendation," he said.
“Our members will now return to work after 21 days on strike, they have shown tremendous dignity throughout what has been an extremely difficult dispute, for that they are to be commended, we would also like to take this opportunity to thank members of the travelling public for their massive support and understanding through what has been a difficult time for them in having to make alternative travel arrangements for their daily commute,” he added.