Bus Workers are Right to Strike

Bus workers are absolutely right to strike over the NTA proposal to tender out 10% of Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann routes. Despite claims that this isn't privatisation by the NTA it means private companies will be handed routes currently operated by the semi state companies’ and even handed the buses that are currently owned by the state.

Socialist Worker

Bus Workers are Right to Strike

NTA tendering plan will decimate workers livelihoods and do nothing to improve public transport.

Bus workers are absolutely right to strike over the NTA proposal to tender out 10% of Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann routes. Despite claims that this isn’t privatisation by the NTA it means private companies will be handed routes currently operated by the semi state companies’ and even handed the buses that are currently owned by the state.

Claims that the NTA will guarantee drivers conditions as they are forced to move to a new private company are a joke that is simply designed to get the measure in. In reality drivers will have NO guarantee of long term conditions, rights, or rosters. Pension schemes and conditions like medical and travel facilities will be under threat as well. The entire purpose of the competitive tendering process is to hammer unionised workers pay and conditions and introduce the kind of working conditions and rosters common in the private non-union transport sector. This is what the Fine Gael Minister O‘Donoghue is talking about when he says he wants to see “competitive tension” in the bus “market”.

The Government plan to hand over 10% will not end there. While Labour is claiming their influence in Government has stopped any further privatisation, the reality is this tranche of routes will be just the first if the NTA succeed in this plan. They will move to tender out other routes by 2019 and use the same justifications for doing so; EU laws and better efficiencies and services.

In fact the proposals will do nothing for public transport; not a single extra bus or journey will be added to public transport in Dublin or the South East. All that will happen is a private company employing drivers on reduced rates and conditions will operate the routes with state subsidies being diverted to the shareholders and owners of the private company.

The move is part of the privatisation and neoliberal policy’s beloved by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and disgracefully supported by the miserable Labour Party. The NTA claims it conducted research that proves the tendering policy works and cites a report it paid Ernst and Young to conduct. These genius consultants have previously given Anglo Irish Banks a glowing report before they destroyed the economy. Such consultants are wheeled out by Governments and quangos to justify attacks on public services and the privatisation of public assets. As Michael Taft of Unite points out the report itself used one other report of the experience in other countries to justify privatisation, while ignoring other studies that contradict its pro privatisation policy. In fact similar schemes in other countries have not resulted in improved services and tax payers often end up paying more for privatised routes. What is universal is that private companies gain immense profits while worker’s wages and conditions get hammered; This is Fine Gael’s (and their helpers in Labour) real agenda.

Bus worker’s strike plans have rattled this government. Since the crash Irish workers have faced attack after attack with USC, lay-offs and cuts to pension rights. A new generation are now expected to work under job-bridge schemes and zero hours contracts. Bus workers can stop the privatisation of these routes by a sustained campaign of industrial action and a wider campaign against the privatisation agenda. Such a fight can win support from the wider labour movement and give heart to many workers to resist similar attacks in their workplaces. Busworker’s can bring the spirit of the water charges campaign into the labour movement and roll back years of austerity and anti-worker measures.


The NTA is the regulator for all of Irelands public transport; rail, bus and taxi. They are presented as an independent, neutral body. In fact they are staffed with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail hacks who are handpicked for their ideological commitment to competition and free markets. Their goal is to let rip against worker’s rights and conditions in currently unionised public or semi-state firms. The NTA regurgitates pro market and pro privatisation dogma as if they are uncontested facts. The recent controversy over one board member, Valerie O’Reilly shows the reality. O’Reilly was a part of the corrupt ex Fine Gael minister Michael Lowery’s constituency team. Lowery used his influence to get her appointed to the NTA board where she has pocketed over 55 thousand euro for showing up to a few meetings and supporting the privatisation agenda pushed by the board.

Its chair is John Fitzgerald, the former Dublin City manager who has bounced around various semi state boards trying to push privatisations and pro market policies. As Dublin city manager he oversaw urban renewal policies that gave private developers free reign and huge tax breaks while riding roughshod over local working class communities. The ten years of his tenure in the city saw whole communities gentrified and developers make millions while the city continued to choke with traffic and the council’s services where cut back or contracted out to private companies. He was the manager who pushed bin charges and his reward as a leading member of Irelands golden circle has been various board memberships like An Post and the HSE.


The NTA and Government campaign to privatise bus routes are based on outright likes about public transport.

1; State companies get too much funding, their wasteful and inefficient.

IN FACT Dublin Bus gets a lower subsidy than most other comparable European cities, even some who are already privatised. The NTAs own report on Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann had to admit that both companies reached and exceeded ALL performance targets they were set by the NTA!! Even on the routes they now want to hand over to private companies. Other reports by international transport agencies have found the state companies preform as well and better than privatised companies. The problem is that state funding has declined drastically since 2008. While busy bailing out the banks, the state funding for public transport was savaged with services and jobs cut and fares rose dramatically over the last three years. Having created this crisis by under-funding, the Government and the NTA want to pretend it’s caused by lack of competition and inefficient public sector workers.

Bus Strike 2

LIE 2; The Luas is run by a private company, it gets no state funding and runs a profit; this shows how much more efficient private run companies are.

IN fact, as Brian Lucy has pointed out, Luas did not build its own rail system and is not expected to maintain their tracks and infrastructure, taxpayers paid for these. In reality for every one euro paid in fares, Luas passengers get a subsidy of €2.88   For every euro paid to Bus Éireann by comparison, there is a state subsidy of just €0.13. This means that the average LUAS fare covers less than 30% of the effective costs of each journey, while bus passengers are expected to pay for 90% plus for their trips. This is not an argument against state funding of Luas but shows hold the ruling class will lie and misuse information to push their ideological agenda.

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