BUS services in Limerick are to resume under protest after an agreement was reached between drivers and the National Bus and Rail Union this afternoon.
Bus drivers who took part in an unofficial strike across today (Monday) and yesterday have called for an urgent meeting with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to discuss issues around new roster arrangements.
All Bus Éireann routes serving Limerick city and county ground to a halt across the past two days as a result of the unexpected industrial action. However, according to Bus Éireann, services are to be phased back in this evening, with full services to be resumed by Tuesday morning.
The transport provider estimated that as many as 20,000 people were impacted each day as a result of the strike.
Speaking to the Limerick Post earlier today, a source said that of 200 bus drivers based at the Roxboro Depot, only three of them went to work as normal on their routes this morning.
Bus drivers across Limerick were taking part in what had been described by Bus Éireann as “unofficial” and “illegal” strike action.
The strike comes amid an argument about ‘spare’ driver arrangements and the news that Bus Éireann plans to bring in a more uniform service nationwide in relation to spare drivers.
The latest in the saga saw the striking workers told by the General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), Dermot O’Leary, that they could either return to work pending a discussion with the WRC or continue striking without pay.
Speaking to the Limerick Post at the scene of the protest, Mr O’Leary said he was in Limerick to encourage the drivers to go back to work.
“I have to come and tell them that there’s another way, there’s a proper way, and there’s an official way of doing this,” he said.
“I have a major, major problem with Bus Éireann management and how they’ve approached all this, particularly in view of the fact that I warned them about this back on the 19th of September.”
“Between the 19th of September and as recent as last week, I said ‘you’re going to do this, you’re going to force a reaction from people that might not be the best reaction and it would affect services’, and this is obviously what’s happening,” Mr O’Leary explained.
According to the NBRU General Secretary, the only way forward in the dispute is for the bus drivers to sit down with Bus Éireann management at the WRC and talk the issues out.
“Industrial relations is not black and white, being right doesn’t get you an edge forward. Look, hopefully people here will make a decision, if they don’t, they don’t. A lot of the members are genuine, decent, hardworking people,” Mr O’Leary said.
“Ultimately we have to solve the issues,” he concluded.
In a statement released this afternoon after the agreement had been reached, Bus Éireann said that it “welcomes the news that unofficial industrial action taken by a small number of employees at Limerick depot has now ended”.
“We are pleased to announce that services will see a phased resumption this evening, 2 October 2023. We expect full services will resume from tomorrow morning, 3 October 2023, delivering services to the over 20,000 people who use our services everyday in Limerick.”