Ireland: ‘Bus Eireann workers in front line of class war – We should all support them!’

Bus workers take strike action over savage wage cuts and attacks on conditions

Bus services across the Republic of Ireland have been cancelled due to a strike by the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU). Pickets were placed on depots as the industrial action by NBRU members enters its second day.

The Irish Times reported: “About 95 per cent of Bus Éireann services did not operate yesterday after pickets were placed on depots by members of the NBRU.

"Bus Éireann has more than 2,000 staff, about half of whom belong to the NBRU. Others who are members of Siptu and the Transport Salaries Staff Association did not pass the pickets and it is expected they will not pass pickets today.

"Siptu president Jack O’Connor indicated members of his union were likely to vote in favour of industrial action when a ballot concluded later this week”.

The Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) made the following statement on the strike:

The workers at Bus Eireann face an annual loss of income of €3,000 to €4,000 if the company are successful in imposing the cuts in pay and conditions. This is simply unaffordable and the workers have clearly been left with no alternative but to take this stand.

We say simply that just as working people, in general, should not be made pay for the crisis in Ireland through failed austerity policies, the workers in Bus Eireann and indeed the other CIE [public transport] companies where similar attacks are in the pipeline should not be made responsible for cuts in the government subsidy, fuel price rises and mismanagement by the top brass which has allowed the private sector to encroach on the most profitable parts of what should be an entirely publicly run transport system.

Solidarity by SIPTU and TSSA union members, whose unions have not yet sanctioned official action in terms of not crossing the bus workers’ pickets that are being mounted by NBRU members, is necessary to maximise the effectiveness of the action.

There are clear signs the company want to cut across the effectiveness of the strike action by using private coach firms to scab. An urgent practical discussion is needed, involving the Bus Eireann workers on the ground with support from the wider trade movement and sympathetic working people who oppose austerity, about what kind of protest action is needed to disrupt strike-breaking efforts.

Likewise, if this strike becomes prolonged, there is a duty for the wider trade movement and the Left to raise funds and do what is necessary to build support in wider society to help sustain the struggle until victory is achieved.

Croke Park II [the attempt by union leaders, bosses’ and the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government to make a new ‘social partnership deal’] the abolition of Registered Employment Agreements by the Supreme Court and the offensive by the CIE top management, together with the imposition of the property tax, taken together, has to be seen as a frontal assault by the Establishment on working people. Bus Eireann workers are in the front line of this class war. We should all support them!

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May 2013