Bus workers must take control of the dispute!

On 17 March the SIPTU leadership did the dirty work of Seamus Brennan and the Government by forcing the workers in CIE and Aer Rianta, against their wishes, to call off the 18 March public transport strikes on the basis of meaningless "reassurances" from Bertie Ahern.

By Stephen Boyd

NBRU and SIPTU leaders are now arguing for the Government's deal that includes the break up of CIE and franchising for private operators, on the basis that the Government's assurances on jobs will protect the current CIE workforce.

The Government is committed to the full privatisation of Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann. The private companies, to which Brennan intends to hand 25% of bus routes, will pay their workforce less wages and enforce worse working conditions. This will impact on all other bus workers.That is the effect that the anti-union and low paying Ryanair has had on the conditions of Aer Lingus workers. New recruits into Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann will inevitably be given "yellow pack" conditions. This is privatisation by stealth - they plan to run down the company and demoralise the workforce so they will be able to sell the companies off.

The leadership of SIPTU and the NBRU cannot be trusted. Activists should call "unofficial" meetings of SIPTU and NBRU members in Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann to discuss how to proceed. If senior union officials won't organise official strike action then the workers must organise "unofficial" strikes.

Strike committees should be elected in all the depots at mass meetings of bus workers. Votes should be taken at these mass meetings on a new date for a 24-hour strike. The strike committees should then instruct SIPTU and NBRU officials to declare this date as an official strike - if they refuse the strike committees should proceed and organise the strike anyway without their "leaders'" backing. Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann strike committees should link up with the workers in Aer Rianta. Joint strike action by Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann and Aer Rianta workers can defeat the Government. Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann workers can stop the break up of CIE and keep the private operators out. But only if they take control of this dispute and rely solely on themselves and the other workforces in CIE and Aer Rianta.

The Socialist Party says:

This article is from the April 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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