pic: Go Ahead bus awarded contract
By Owen McCormack
Despite attempts to paint it as otherwise this is privatisation. Existing publicly owned services and buses will be handed over to a multinational to operate for profit.
The move is justified by the NTA on the grounds that increased “competition” in buses operating in Dublin will mean savings and more efficiency.
This is nonsense, the only purpose behind the plan is to undermine existing pay and conditions.
Where similar plans were introduced in London, workers’ wages and conditions deteriorated dramatically. Ironically, state subsidies increased and many privatised firms enjoyed huge profits on the backs of both poorer wages and increased subsidies.
The company that won the “competition” is Go Ahead, one of England’s largest private operators who also run train services. Ironically the company have recently been voted the worst train operator in one survey and had one train route taking away because the service was so poor. Despite this the company raked in almost £100 million in profits last year. Oxford bus drivers had to strike earlier this year when the company tried to renege on paying agreed bank holiday rates over Xmas.
Despite claiming that tendering out routes would save the state money, the NTA had to admit that the Dublin Bus bid to retain the routes was cheaper than Go Ahead. The agency still claimed that the Go Ahead bid would be better overall in the five years of the licence, but this is an absurd claim.
It exposes the real agenda behind the tendering out of state routes. The state will now increase the amount it subsidises these routes in order to insure the private company makes a profit.
The real purpose is to give a private company, with drivers on lower pay and conditions, every support in order to justify privatising even more routes in the years ahead. Just as in other cities that have privatised transport services, there will be no saving to passengers or the state.
When questioned by People Before Profit TD Brid Smith , the NTA refused to release any details of the deal with Go Ahead, claiming such details were commercially sensitive.
Shamefully both SIPTU and the NBRU unions have accepted the plans following a strike last year. They accepted on the basis that no driver would be forced to move to the private company that won the bid for these routes.
The government and the NTA have promised more funding and increased routes in other areas to compensate for the loss of the 10% .
But this depends on the NTA developing more routes and awarding them to Dublin Bus. In reality the NTA have now begun a process that they will want to keep pushing in order to privatise more services in the years ahead. The agency is ideologically committed to a neoliberal agenda of privatisation.
Workers and the public need to fight this plan and expose the Government’s real agenda. Handing over public services to private operators will not improve services or give us a decent transport system. We also need to demand the scrapping of the NTA and its privatisation agenda.