NEW LABOUR BILL WOULD STOP RACE TO BOTTOM IN BUS SECTOR

1 March 2017

Labour Transport spokesperson, Brendan Ryan TD, has today published a Bill that would allow for new conditions to be attached to licenses awarded by the National Transport Authority to private operators.

The proposed conditions would ensure a more level playing field between private operators and Bus Éireann. It would also enable a Sectoral Employment Order to be introduced to set a floor on terms and conditions for staff across the bus industry.

Deputy Ryan commented:

"We are launching a Bill today that aims to prevent a race to the bottom on the terms and conditions of workers in the bus sector.

"It proposes to amend the Public Transport Regulation Act of 2009 to add a new condition for the awarding of licenses by the NTA to private operators to ensure that they either: (a) engage in collective bargaining with their own workforce, or else, (b) become a member of an association representing the industry as a whole. Provision (b) would ensure a Sectoral Em ployment Order (SEO) covering the private bus industry could be introduced.

"This change in the law would mean that when a private operator receives a license to operate a route, the operator would be bound to observing normal industrial relations practise preventing a race to the bottom on the terms and conditions of bus drivers.

"Our bus network is an essential public service and if we are to have private competition with public operators, it is critical that we have a basic threshold on pay and conditions, a reliable service and that all operators compete on a level playing field.

“It has become clear in recent months that the crisis at Bus Éireann is being used as an excuse to slash the terms and conditions of frontline staff. There is a registered employment agreement in place, covering bus workers, which is being ignored by management.

"There has also been a major increase in competition in the bus sector, through the awarding of licenses by the NTA to private operators who compete against Bus Éireann.
"This Bill aims to strike the right balance between the needs of business and a worker’s right to basic job security and a decent rate of pay.

"I also repeat my call yesterday for the Minister for Transport to facilitate an urgent dialogue through a stakeholder forum, and for a review of the level of funding provided for the Free Travel Scheme and the PSO subvention to bring it to European norms."