Crisis at Bus Eireann

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by robertclark125, 11 Feb 2017.

  1. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    There has been a lot of work on this (but more needs to be done) the big issues right now slowing down efficiency are dwell times, fare systems and the lack of use of middle doors, which could really bring down costs a huge amount but I don't ever see that happening.

    They won't be increasing hours - the problem with the pay is not so much core pay, more the way that a large number of drivers are contracted for a standard working week, which is not actually connected to the work that is actually done by the staff, which causes the company considerable expense since the excess is paid at overtime rates every week for the whole year for a large number of employees.

    You could say that an easy way around that is to offer drivers higher basic pay for the extra hours, but the unions are never going to allow that because of the fact it would reduce their members earning potential despite the fact it would give them a little bit more security, premiums and overtime and allowances make up a significant proportion of a lot of staffs wages.

    This is why BE have offered staff a pay-rise of several percent over the next few years in exchange for cuts to premiums, allowances and overtime. The sheer amount of money they are spending on these things is massive, and is the same reason why the unions are making such a fuss, Even though there core pay is not being effected.
     
  2. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sounds like the Forum favourite Gatwick Express! :lol:

    When I used Dublin Bus it was less the complexity of the fare and more that they were exact change only! So the four of us ended up scrabbling around trying to put together the right coins for our fares rather than handing over one note to pay for all four of us with a little bit of change due back. What should have taken twenty seconds took a minute or two.
     
  3. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Essentially it's a marketing tactic, to make a service sound better than it actually is, they missed the boat on a lot of intercity services and in the absence of being able to rival the competition on frequency or journey times, they instead have spent a huge amount of money on marketing and new vehicles to try and sell the service as being better than it actually is.

    There is also a debate within an industry how a company such as BE can spend close to €10m a year on vehicles for it's commercial services and several million on advertising at a time when it is losing money hand over fist when most of the services are struggling in the wake of competition and are not being run in a commercially viable way.

    It is still like that, however the regulator has reduced the number of fare bands by over 50% over the past few years. There are now three main adult fare bands, whereas at one point there were six and some route specific fares and outer suburban fares. Route specific fares have been scrapped and outer suburban fares have been merged into the highest standard fare band.

    However Dublin Bus in particular is anxious that there is no large changes to fares in one big bang and wants a phased changing of the fare system over a number of years, because they are worried the impact that this could have on farebox revenue and could cause them financial distress and the regulator is not very keen on saying they will cover everything the company loses because that means the company has no incentive to run a bus service efficiently.

    I used to get the bus every day for a while in Dublin city centre and you could be waiting a couple of minutes for everyone to get off, and 3-4 minutes for everyone to get on and interact with the driver on busy stops. On the number 4/7 route it could take 20 minutes from O'Connell Street to Merrion Square and well over 10 minutes of that would be dwell time. At one point artics were on that route, but they too only used one door, so whilst the idea of putting them on there was excellent, unfortunately the execution was a joke.
     
    Last edited: 15 Feb 2017
  4. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Railworkers may now get dragged into this:
    http://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0215/852860-bus-eireann/

     
    Last edited: 15 Feb 2017
  5. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Strike called off to allow for further talks:
    https://twitter.com/DermotLeary/status/831962377901977600

    The statement from the Unions is a clear reference to trying to get the government involved in this to increase funding and/or change the regulatory environment in favour of Expressway over other commercial operators.

    The government is facing a motion of no confidence tonight, the unions would very much like to see the government ousted and replaced with more union friendly parties so I would expect they will try and use this to their advantage.
     
    Last edited: 15 Feb 2017
  6. DT611

    DT611 Member

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    sorry for the following long post, but i want to clear up some things. I will say that i have no affiliation to any transport organisation.

    it isn't simply expressway that is at risk but the whole company. If the whole company goes insolvent then rural ireland will be effected until such time as replacements are found, which will take quite some time. It might also require an increase in subsidy to attract those replacements, which it will be a case of whether government wishes to pay up. the fear over rural bus services is based on potentially factual realities that may or may not come to fruition, lets hope they don't come to fruition.
    The regulator are known for criticising "calling out" and blaming all and sundry, all the while not giving a stuff about for example, rail users, for which they are as far from a passenger voice as it gets. In truth those users have no voice and never will sadly. Playing the victim and blaming everyone else for their shortcomings is the regulators thing, it is what they are good at.
    in relation to Using smaller busses, that was done, however the routes grew which required double-decks to be put back on. It is also found to be easier to operate a single standard fleet so that busses can be transferred between routes, meaning capacity can be increased quickly if needs be. this would mostly be apt in terms of rural routes, where rather then having a mixed fleet of small busses and coaches, which are stuck to speciffic routes, a standard coach fleet is preferred. for example a bus could run a rural route in the morning, but head to dublin later in the day. It could be the case that a mixed fleet might be better, but i can certainly see the advantages of a standard fleet.
    Many city bus services in ireland don't have enough patronage to be left to operate commercially, but provide benefits to the economy as a whole hence are subsidized for social good.
    In relation to the double door issue in dublin bus, drivers aren't refusing to use double doors. they cannot use them because the stops are not set up for their safe operation and there are no plans to make them safe.
    In relation to the tendering, the unions aren't making anything difficult there, they are simply concerned about potential downgrades in terms and conditions and want those issues dealt with before tendering takes place. from what i hear there is very little interest from operators anyway, and it's nothing to do with the unions, but the subsidy and other issues. the unions did suggest that privates only running at peak times, refusing passes, running small vehicles, charging higher fares, all may be an issue, but that was before the model that would be followed became known, because it was believed by all that de-regulation would be the model that was going to be followed, and it took a long time before the truth actually came out. Once it did the unions excepted what was said and back-tracked. the unions have claimed that companies don't get paid when they don't run services, which is the truth. the fact that happens is fare and correct by the way. What we have in ireland isn't perfect and never will be, but it won't be improved by privatization/tendering but by the regulator actually regulating and penalising for failure.
     
  7. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Of course, since whilst the company has two separate branches, all staff work for the one company and resources are shared between both branches, apart from the fact state assets cannot be used on commercial services because this would be considered as highly illegal state aid.

    A way of avoiding this is to splitting the company down the middle and making both arms totally separate, however the unions would never accept that as it would mean that those working on Expressway would need their terms and conditions adjusted to be in line with market norms.

    The non Expressway services had a large increase in funding last year and are not losing money and the performance is in line with expectations. The Expressway services are losing money so are the cause of this issue, because it is the performance of those services which is dragging the whole company down, because of mismanagement of the company by management over a number of years.

    "Potential Factual Realities" is this like Donald Trumps "Alternative Facts" I have to give you credit, you really made me laugh at that which is quite a task at this time of the night. What you say could be true, but a private who has a lower cost base with smaller, lower cost vehicles, more local to the routes could do it for less as well, not saying they will but it's possible.

    When BE have withdrawn commercial services in the past the regulator has tendered services to cover for them which have been up and running as quickly as possible as it is to complete a tender and all of which have been drawn up to connect with other methods of public transport.
    .
    The problem with the rail contract is that it wasn't one which was drawn up by the regulator, it was drawn up before their time by politicians over a long period of many months and pretty much the regulator were only established right at the end of the procedure, a short time before the contract had to be signed or there would be no contract at all for rail services.

    The current Bus Eireann, Luas and Dublin Bus contracts were all new contracts which were created from scratch within the last couple of years and the whole process was overseen by the regulator. In 2019 Irish Rail will also be getting such a contract when the existing 10 year one expires, until then the regulator have little power compared to the bus operator, believe me though, that will certainly be changing, unless a soon to be elected FF government prevents it.

    Some services within Ireland don't have enough patronage to operate commercially and of course are going to need to be subsidised, no doubting that, not in the slightest. However at the same time, I also don't buy that every single city bus route in the whole country apart from a handful cannot pay it's way. There are many cities in the UK which have many routes that take far less revenue per bus and far lower load factors that still pay their way commercially, yet Dublin Bus can't find a single route which does?

    This is the excuse which is trotted out over and over again, the argument from the unions is that there is no rule as to what is considered "safe" and they do not put down any criteria of what this is. They simply say that a driver should be able to use his/her discretion as to what is safe. Then you have the current situation where 99% of drivers state that they do not have to give reasons to the company or the regulator why the stop is unsafe since they have a right to use their discretion and they are using the right at every stop to not open the doors.

    I'm very puzzled if the staff do not feel the stops are safe, they are not keen to act how they can be made safer, every time they are asked this question they do not appear to be able to say why they are not safe or what needs to be changed and just keep making unrealistic demands such as "we will use middle doors if we are exempt from any accident for any reason." which no company will ever allow because it promotes grossly negligent behavior in the knowledge that no matter how dangerous they act, they can't be in trouble.

    There are six operators interested, however there were more who dropped out because of the fact that the original ITT was changed somewhat following pressure from unions and the changes meant that the revised ITT made it more unattractive and economically challenging for smaller operators to compete.

    Some of these issues were relating to TUPE, possible disputes and strikes which could happen, issues about government owned facilities and bus stations and depot facilities, the attempt by the NBRU to get staff costs removed from tenders, all of these things which were instigated by the unions.

    The tendering model was published almost two years ago now, even as recently as last week the unions were still distributing leaflets and holding meetings talking about bus passes not being taken, withdrawal of non-peak time services, huge increases to fares and massive timetable cuts. They are trying to scare the public and it's that kind of campaigning I don't like, but I realise that coming out honestly and saying pretty much it's all about money and their terms and conditions and nothing else doesn't make such a great case for public support.

    Nobody has ever talked about de-reg for the last few years, the only people who have been doing so tends to be Sinn Fein, who didn't want to be anywhere near government following the last election under any circumstances and couldn't run fast enough away from the prospect of power, the unions and a lot of the extreme left wing media. It's designed to strike fear into people, during the recent strike debate many people were asked to back-up this so called de-reg wish with some hard proof, and they just kept repeating the same rhetoric without being able to back any of it up.

    However the most amusing thing I have seen in the left wing media and union groups recently is a call for de-reg on routes where Bus Eireann doesn't have a presence right now to allow them a license they otherwise could not get, whilst at the same time keeping the regulated licensing on routes where they already are serving. I don't know if that itself was amusing or the fact they called this "leveling the playing field." that phrase also makes me laugh, because in any industry 99/100 it means totally the opposite.

    But the problem is that what we are seeing and have seen over the last few years is that at the moment the companies/unions see themselves as being more powerful than the regulator and what the regulator is attempting to do is face that down, but considering the holy mess they were left with when they took office and some contracts which were already virtually signed before they took office, they cannot do that straight away.

    The problem right now is there is real fear in the regulator if the companies and the unions do not get what they want, there will be strikes and the whole public transport system will be brought down until the regulator has backed down and that is the biggest issue Ireland has, there is a massive power struggle over who is in charge of transport and it's provision in the state and it's no wonder that public transport is so poor in Ireland when that is going on. Do I blame the companies and unions over this solely though? Certainly not.

    The fact a situation has developed like this has to be laid at the door of politicians who allowed such a unholy mess build over the 90s and into the 00s with no proper regulation and politicians who were asleep at the wheel who despite having more money at any time in history, felt all they had to do with transport is hand over blank cheques to the state companies and everything else would take care of itself and they could just sit back and watch the money roll in because all that nuts and bolts stuff could be done later, since there was plenty of time and the money would never run out and the Celtic Tiger would never die and those who thought it would should go off and commit suicide.
     
    Last edited: 19 Feb 2017
  8. DT611

    DT611 Member

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    Bus eireann terms and conditions are in line with the market, all be it they are at the higher end of the market. a private with a lower cost base with smaller lower cost vehicles would still want to make money from operating the route, so it is very unlikely they would be able to do it for less. Maybe around the same amount of money. the NTA can and do have the power to inforce standards on the contract with the rail operator and refuse to do it. As i said the reason for the lack of double door use on dublin bus services is down to safety concerns, there are no excuses being made, it's an issue and the relevant authorities must do what they need to to make the stops safe and deal with the concerns of drivers. You have been given plenty of explanations by drivers on other websites you frequent as to the issues to why the stops aren't safe for double door operation. The reason for operators dropping out were nothing to do with unions, the unions were only interested in the terms and conditions of their members and the NTA were really only interested in attracting the bigger operators. The terms and conditions for current staff rightly got sorted but that wasn't anything to do with operators dropping out. The unions have not stated anything about passes not been taken, withdrawels of services and timetable cuts since the model the regulator want to persue was finally revealed. The only thing they have mentioned recently is possible fare hikes which lets face it will happen regardless of who operates services. the companies and unions don't see themselves as more powerful then the regulator, and the regulator have simply played the victim and blamed everyone else for their short comings which they have many of, i'm afraid.
     
  9. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Contradicting yourself there my friend.

    Compared to the rest of the market BE and DB average take home pay per annum is higher. If you ranked all the operators on pay, they would be right at the very top, but please do not take my word for it.

    Private bus operators pay lower wages than Bus Éireann

    So if that was the case then the unions have nothing to fear from tendering because if it could not be done cheaper, then surely they could win every single tender without any problem, especially when you consider the privates would have start-up costs that BE would not have. Yet still the unions are trying to stop tendering and get staffing costs taken out of the tender

    They have powers but they are very limited and the fines that they can impose and penalties that they can hand out are very weak, because that is what is in the existing public service contract that was designed before their time. You will find from 2019 things will get much tougher when they impose a penalty and target based regime similar to that which is being used on Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann.

    One of the key issues with the current rail contract is performance and reliability data is provided by the operator itself to the regulator and is not subject to open scrutiny or observation by third party, since the contract says that it needs to be this way, there is nothing the regulator can do until the contract has ended and they can change this and believe me they will,

    You are proving my exact point I made in my last post, all rhetoric, nothing to back any of this up, which is typical of the union side in this debate. They continually make claims but when asked to put flesh on the bones, we just keep hearing the same soundbites all of the time. The unions have made no submissions as to what kind of stop would be considered safe and their only remarks on this 'issue' continue to be, they will operate the doors if they are not held liable no matter how grossly negligent they are and that they must always have discretion not to use them

    No, the smaller operators dropped out because of delays caused by the unions and the fact that following changes to the tender relating to staffing, TUPE and the new requirement to build their own depot rather than have some kind of state assistance or subcontract maintenance were scrapped. These changes took place because of union protests about having to possibly share such infrastructure with commercial operators or required transfer of undertakings.

    Such changes would make it vastly harder for a smaller company to accrue the finances needed in up front infrastructure investment to put in a competitive bid, so they decided that they would pull out from the bidding. This was a side effect of what I described above, which put Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann in a better position since they already had such facilities and didn't have to build them and essentially made it harder for smaller operates to compete.

    They were saying it last week at a meeting in Cork and other cities.

    I also bring to attention this leaflet which was handed out last year which is full of the kind of scaremongering I outlined, almost two years after the regulator model was revealed.
    http://dublinbusdrivers.com/wpimages/wp165a7c29_05_06.jpg

    Meanwhile this is some of the arguments that the unions have used in order to slow the process down which has resulted in bidders pulling out, don't worry, I will get you a link about the depots and the maintenance facilities in my next post.
    http://www.dublinbusdrivers.com/wpimages/wpeba43453_05_06.jpg

    So if so, why don't they just do what they are told and continue to have a defiance of authority on a number of occasions where they are not willing to do anything in the greater good of public transport in the country, because they are more worried at how it will hurt them even if the public, of what is supposed to be a public service, benefit.

    The sign of a good regulator in an industry is often that people within key players in an industry are not happy with them and complain about them, because generally if people within in an industry are happy with a regulator it is because they are too light touch and feel they can dictate how things work and the industry themselves.
     
  10. DT611

    DT611 Member

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    Nope my friend.

    I said at the higher end of the market norms, so you aren't arguing against what i stated here.

    Because they want to insure good terms and conditions to attract staff, to grow services. Insuring bench marks that other operators must live up to and insuring tendering cannot be used just to drive down wages to the bottom as per the original plan, with most likely no savings in terms of subsidy but more likely an increase eventually, is a good thing and puts everyone on an equal footing.

    Yeah, sure. They will do as little as they can in 2019 as they do now, i can guarantee it. This is the same numties who want to introduce 10 minute frequencies on infrastructure that can't handle it and ride rough shot over other users after all. They can make changes but they do not wish to. That is a fact. They aren't interested in rail users.

    That is not correct, the regulator can do a lot but are choosing not to.

    I am not proving your point as your point is wrong. You have been told this on other forums you frequent by people who actually drive the busses the reasons why the stops aren't safe for double door operation. You don't have to accept it and don't by all means but you are still incorrect as to the reasoning that such operation isn't happening.

    They dropped out because what the regulator were looking for made bidding unattractive. the regulators actually want the bigger operators only to tender and not small operators. What the unions wanted and got was a guarantee that the CIE companies would not be left at a staff disadvantage by having their staff simply transferred to other operators, even if the staff didn't want to transfer. They wanted to insure staff could make the decisian for themselves. the union was never against the subcontracting out of maintenence to bus eireann and dublin bus, in fact the companies would benefit as it would be income. What the issue from the unions was over, was a fear that other operators would be able to use the facilities yet dublin bus and bus eireann staff would be expected to maintain the busses free of charge. That hasn't come to fruition if it even was a plan, but there must have been something otherwise the unions wouldn't have made it an issue.

    No they weren't. that is not correct.

    well from what i hear only a very small few got it as it was withdrawn from circulation due to those inaccuracies.

    Valid reasons to insure fairness and equality across all operators. Rightly so. Makes the tendering process fair for everybody, which is what we want.

    Nope, A good regulator isn't always one who simply does what it wants and screw whoever it is regulating. a good regulator will listen to all stake holders in relation to an issue and will come up with the best solution. That is good regulation, taking all sides and all potential issues into account, and coming up with a solution that can benefit everyone and which can bring improvements across the board rather then simply riding roughshot over those who they are regulating and not listening to what can be genuine concerns.
     
  11. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    In what way?
     
  12. Hornet

    Hornet Member

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    In no way. As a regular Dublin Bus user, it's more to do with the belligerance of the average Dublin Bus Driver, (and boy, some of them do need some anger management courses), than the positioning of stops, which are no difference whatsoever with the positioning of any UK bus stop. I've been on plenty of Dublin Bus services where drivers DO open the center doors. The truth of the matter is that it is all to do with extra pay to operate these doors.

    "Irish bus drivers are among best paid in the world"

    http://evoke.ie/news/irish-news/irish-bus-drivers-are-among-the-best-paid-in-the-world
     
    Last edited: 20 Feb 2017
  13. DT611

    DT611 Member

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    belligerance of the average dublin bus driver? I presume you have met them all to make such a statement?
    assuming you were to be right it doesn't equate to my experiences of years of daily use, where i have only ever endured a couple of drivers with attitude or other issues. It doesn't mean i deny such don't exist but in no way could i make blanket statements about the whole of a work force.
     
  14. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    OK, so in precisely what manner are the stops in Dublin unsafe for using the rear doors?
     
  15. Hornet

    Hornet Member

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    I have met enough to consider that decent Dublin Bus Drivers are to be found in the minority. And that is with 35 years of experience travelling on Dublin Bus.
     
  16. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    QUOTES FROM THE LOCAL MEDIA
    http://www.irishtimes.com/business/...osures-sharp-cuts-to-staff-earnings-1.2982036

    This backs up a lot of what I have been saying in relation to the fact that allowances, shift pay and overtime in the current forms are completely unsustainable and have to be addressed. The fact that so much overtime is being paid is because a standard working week for every employee does not work.

    In any properly running business if a driver works 9 hours a day 5 days a week he has a contract for 45 hours a week. In Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann he has a contract for 40 hours a week regardless of how many duties he works, if he works less than 40 hours he is still paid for 40 hours, but if he works more every day he is paid overtime for the extra hours.

    Overtime should be used for one off, unpredictable or irregular events, not 1.6 hours a day for every driver every working day of the year, who is not going to sign a regular contract for the hours he has worked every day for the last two years because he'd earn less money than working the 1.6 hours a day at overtime rates. This is where the idea that the unions are going to put the public first unlike the privates who will supposedly game the system to make as much money as possible falls down - they are doing exactly the same themselves, gaming the system for the maximum cash.

    Which comes back to what I said above and several pages ago, there is no problem with the basic pay and wages and moreover the issue is with the fact that bonuses and perks make up a huge amount of earnings for the driver whilst at the same providing very little in return for the company. This is a perfect example of a company being inefficient, the company is fully dependent on overtime to meet it's obligations, but the cost of providing said overtime is too high for the companies means, therefore the costs have to be reduced.

    That speaks for itself.

    So basically another way of saying that the old guard who have been in the company for many years are happy to **** on the junior staff so they can get their own way. Yet at the very same time the old guard are complaining that the top brass in the company are not taking a pay cut whilst at the same time crapping on the people below them in the pecking order at the same time, talk about irony.
     
  17. Teflon Lettuce

    Teflon Lettuce Member

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    So far I've kept out of this debate as I don't really know the situation in Eire BUT I could not allow this fallacy of pay rates being the problem to go unchallenged any longer.

    You complain that the drivers get scheduled overtime which, you claim is a problem... why is it? if it is SCHEDULED then the management should be factoring that into their business plan. It is no good management setting their budgets based on paying "basic" contracted pay if they KNOW that there is inbuilt overtime pay in the contract/ schedules. They can't then blame the union when the union refuses to allow the drivers to pay the price for management's incompetent management.

    Secondly, there seems to be a complaint that drivers are earning 40-60k per year... why is that a problem? drivers, for once in the bus industry, are being paid what they are worth (roughly what drivers in the UK would be on now if their wages had kept pace with inflation since dereg and privatisation).

    If you really do think that the driver unions are in the wrong let me ask you this... if your boss came up to you and said "hey, I've been buggering up the accounts for years and I've just realised that we're losing money hand over fist... would you take a pay cut so I can keep ALL my perks, salary and don't lose any of my standard of living?" what would YOUR answer be?
     
  18. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    So you believe that the highest payers in the market and the higher end of market norms are the same thing? You could use that analogy for every single person to defend high pay if you want, clutching and straws at best, these drivers are not badly paid, many senior drivers are making huge amounts of money and are gaming the system for self gain, whilst at the same time pointing to private companies and then complaining that they are too greedy, if it wasn't so hypocritical it would be laughable.

    That's all well and good, but if their pay was so much better than the privates, then surely the privates would never be able to recruit anyone? Unfortunately you will see that the privates have no problem in hiring people despite the lower salaries.

    By the way, I notice you added to grow services in your post. Can you explain to me, without rhetoric, with cold hard facts, how higher pay leads to higher passenger numbers as you seem to be claiming here.

    All it does is keep the gravy train going for the staff. As for the rest of the post, I won't comment any further because we're not able to have a proper debate on cold hard facts, because as usual from you it's all rhetoric and no facts.

    Would you mind passing me your crystal ball so I can also predict Saturday's lottery numbers, since it appears you may be in possession of one.

    Before the current regulator was in office, Irish Rail asked for funding for re-signalling and as part of the funding Irish Rail said that the benefits of it would be to run 20 trains through Connolly an hour if required, the government gave Irish Rail the amount funding they requested for that on the understanding it would achieve that. It's then up to Irish Rail to deliver on their promises, which they have failed to do so.

    You should be asking Irish Rail management why they took over €100m from the taxpayer to invest in signalling and have spectacularly failed to deliver on what they agreed the funding would achieve. The simple fact is Irish Rail took taxpayers money for infrastructure improvements and despite the money being spent on this new infrastructure, Connolly can't even manage 16 trains an hour, let alone the 20 trains it was promised.

    The reason the regulator is pushing a 10 minute timetable is because that Irish Rail said all those years ago that if you give us the money we can do this. They got the money from the taxpayer to fund their improvements and now suddenly, with all that money thrown away, they say they are not much better off than before they made the investment. The simple fact is Irish Rail have been found out that they applied for funding on a basis they are not able deliver in reality. There's a strong word for that in the private sector.

    I'm waiting for some reasoning, come on, put it down in writing here, some proper cold hard facts, no rhetoric, no unrealistic demands, pure hard information. It's a very straightforward question.

    Smaller operated did tender at the start, they pulled out when the conditions for the ITT were changed following discussions with unions, this made the ITT unattractive for operators, which is why Dualway, among others pulled out.

    Of course they didn't want to leave, because the gravy train would end and they would not be earning €60k or beyond in a private company and they would soon have a shock to their system of what life is liked outside the rose tinted garden they are currently in is like and how people outside the public sector bubble work in the country.

    I mean, a union would never attempt to scaremonger and strike fear into people, not ever, no union in the history has done that have they?

    Said leaflet was being handed out on all buses driven by SIPTU drivers, if you look closely on the internet you will find the Shop Stewards instructing their members to do it and saying where they could get more stocks. Do you really think that it was just a mistake circulating that leaflet and nobody realised it was wrong until someone pointed it out? They really wanted to mislead the public.

    Anyone who uses the word equality or the term level playing field is normally referring to taking away another parties advantage in any competition and tender whilst at the same time not wanting to concede advantages that they have over other parties themselves.

    A regulator is created on behalf of the public. It's obligation is to the taxpayer and the public, not to companies, the staff or the unions but I appreciate some people have a difficult time understanding that.
     
  19. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    The trouble is what you fail to take into account is that the staff and the unions have the final say on all schedules. Management cannot create a new schedule and tell their members to operate it, they have to be approved by unions and generally, unions have been voting down such schedules which do not have good overtime pay built in, so the company is left with schedules which are not fit for purpose and the only way they can change them is pretty much by designing them in a way that the union deems acceptable.

    This is the big problem in Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, generally the problem is that management are not able to manage very much because of the power of the unions. Everything from vehicle design, specification, rosters, duties, schedules, timetables, breaking arrangements goes to votes in unions, so however much the company wants to change things, not as simple.

    The company is then in a tough position. Does it carry on with it's current schedule which is not fit for purpose, or does it go to a schedule that is slightly better but still not in line with what the company needs. At which point the union asks the taxpayers for more money to make up the difference and a few weeks later the staff ballot for a strike saying not only do they want to keep their ineffiecent schedules which they earn 60k on but they want more money too.

    Personally I believe public transport should be run for the benefit of the public, not for the greed of any particular party, should that be private shareholders, staff or union. I think that such wages are obscene when you consider what other people in other sectors such as the police and health service in Ireland are getting.

    Sorry I misread what you said - correcting it now.

    So you're essentially saying that management are to blame for not implementing measures to address the issues? The trouble is that over recent years they have tried to change things in order to deal with the problems, however any changes which would have stopped the accounts from being buggered up have been blocked since it would negatively effect the union and it's members.

    I'm no fan of BE management at all and they have to take a lot of the blame for the state of the Expressway arm which is simply down to lack of service development and commercial acumen and being too slow to develop services and that has simply not helped the business at all, but it's far from being the only cause of their problems as it stands.

    I wouldn't paint BE management as angels or anything like it, but to suggest they are buggering up the accounts on purpose is ridiculous - they knew that things needed to be addresses years ago and a lot of these problems have not just been building overnight, the problem is every time a measure is put on the table to deal with them there is a threat of a strike or it is voted down.

    It's also worth noting the cuts being proposed effect all elements of the company and all grades of staff, management are taking cuts to their allowances and perks as well and clerical staff who are also earning a lot of money from perks will also be hit, the whole "big guy ****ting on the little guy." stuff is hypocritical, since the senior drivers in DB/BE have been ****ting on the new entrants for years, doing anything they can to increase their lot, in exchange for selling the new entrants down the river.

    They don't like it when people more senior than them do it to them, but they are happy to do it to people who are more junior than themselves. That is the height of being hypocrtical.
     
    Last edited: 20 Feb 2017
  20. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    The regulator has really pushed the boat out as well to help with this, they knew that when they specified the vehicles there would be serious push back from Dublin Bus, so they specified the double door vehicles with a number of special features to try and prevent this to no avail.

    The features were
    - Mirror in front of the middle doors
    - Loud buzzer inside and outside bus when doors moving
    - Two cameras, one adjacent, one looking out middle doors
    - Dedicated monitor for middle doors in cab
    - Floormarkings and notices in areas around doors

    I once was on a bus when a relatively junior member (I guess by age) of Dublin Bus staff used the middle doors at every stop, an older driver got on the bus at a stop where a driver change took place where the outgoing driver used the doors, only to be laid into by the older staff member for using the middle doors telling him that he was "letting the union down." and he will report him to the Shop Steward. The oncoming driver didn't use the middle doors once.

    When getting off the bus I asked him why he didn't use the middle doors and he claimed that the unions said they can use their discretion at every stop and he is using his discretion not to use them at every stop. I fired a complaint into Dublin Bus who didn't deny this, but speaking to inspector a few weeks later at a stop I was told that the union wanted blanket liability from the company for any accident for middle doors before they used them, which is obviously never going to happen.
     
  21. Teflon Lettuce

    Teflon Lettuce Member

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    I haven't failed to take anything into account... my introduction to the industry was as a scheduler in an NBC company when that organisation was in it's death throes... I well remember threats of strike action for trying to IMPROVE conditions just cos I forgot to ask the union's permission... but you missed my point... whether the schedules include planned overtime (ie overtime that is known about in advance) or not... the management KNOW what their wage bill is going to be... just as it knows what other costs will be... management should therefore be building a realistic business plan based on the cost as is NOT as they would WISH them to be... there's also been debate on here about middle doors on DD's in Dublin... another evidence of the incompetence of management... they tried for YEARS to get the unions to agree to dual door operation and failed... they gave up and started specifying single doored DD's... why then did the management start specifying dual doors again WITHOUT first gaining a union agreement?

    why are the wages obscene? what do train drivers get in Eire? As I've said on other threads previously... all too often people think bus drivers should be on minimum wage... how would you feel if you found out as you boarded your plane to spain that the pilot was on minimum wage?

    low wages in other sectors in no excuse for lowering the wages of bus drivers


    I don't see what difference it makes whether you work in private or public sector... My question was how would you feel if you was told you had to take a pay cut cos your managers were incompetent...I don't buy your claim that you'd accept how it is... I think truth is you'd be bloody indignant... especially if said manager wasn't willing to also take a cut in their pay and conditions.
     
  22. Teflon Lettuce

    Teflon Lettuce Member

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    As I said before, I'm not too "up on the situation" in Eire... I am only responding to what appears to have been a debate that has degenerated into an "it's all the union's fault" diatribe....

    but if it's not a case of weak ineffectual management (or incompetent) then 2 scenarios...

    Drivers are contracted for 40 hrs per week... and yet are rostered for an average 45 hrs/wk... you have a route that requires 900 man hours of work... as of now you have 20 drivers rostered on the route... why don't management just add another 3 lines to the rota and schedule the drivers to work 40hrs/wk... there's nothing the union can do as management hasn't breached their contract...

    why, if management are so good, haven't they called the bluff of the union before now and said ok... go ahead... strike... if, as you say the senior platform staff have been sh*tting on the lower grades and the new contracts were to improve the lot of the lower grades how long do you think those lower grades would put up with sitting at home losing pay? especially knowing they COULD be earning more than they were before.

    To me it sounds like someone with no axe to grind needs to go in, get management and unions in the same room and bang their heads together!
     
  23. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Int's not all the unions fault but they have a part to play, as do management.

    Management cannot add another 3 lines to the rota willy-nilly to resolve issues like this. A new schedule (refered to as a bill) would have to be created and then it would be voted upon.The drivers would reject this because they would see what the management were up to (the shop stewards and reps are not stupid!). New schedules have to be approved they cannot be implemented without consent.

    Because at the end of the day for every day that the staff strike they do not get paid their public service obligation grant from the state which costs them hundreds of thousands a day, the staff know this and it can be used as leverage to the strikers. The company on a strike day performs substantially worse than a non strike day financially speaking.

    Plus it's difficult to see that anybody will go past a picket line, when that has happened on a very rare basis in the past it has turned quite nasty pretty quickly, I have been in unions myself in the private sector and honestly I've rarely seen people pass a picket, even when they don't agree with the strike or the way the ringleaders are acting, because of intimidation.

    Essentially that is what is happening in the Labour Court, however the big issue is the company will only go in on the condition that their members face no cuts or changes to their terms and conditions whatsoever and the company has to go in with some way of saving money to keep the company afloat when it is losing money hand over first. These two positions are pretty much not compatible with each other at all, keeping the status quo how it is, simply isn't an option.

    The union tactic appears to be to drag this out long enough so it becomes a major issue for a minority government that the taxpayer will bail out BE by handing them huge amounts of extra cash to cover some of the shortfall and for the regulator to change the licensing regime in the commercial market to one which will help the company out but will ultimately put any incentive for any investment or development in commercial services in the bin, which will almost certainly lead to a poorer outcome for passengers and legal challenges about illegal state aid.
     
  24. Teflon Lettuce

    Teflon Lettuce Member

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    perhaps the only way out of this would be for the management to call the unions bluff... state the case for their proposals... say they won't back down... tell the union how many days it will take for the company to be bankrupt if they strike... and that if the union takes it that far there will be no job to come back to... and also what further remedy would then be needed to get the company back on an even keel...

    of course the management won't play hardball, we all know that, as evidenced with the saga of centre doors... as I said in an earlier post... what the hell were management thinking when they switched back to dual doors without getting union agreement first when they knew from previous experience what would happen?
     
  25. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Before the Dual Door Gemini's were ordered in 2012 there was talks between Dublin Bus, Unions and the recently formed regulator about modernizing the bus service and the on-board and vehicle environment which had not really changed much between say 1995-2011 and was very very far behind the kind of standards in other European capital cities.

    Prior to this, Dublin Bus was given a lump sum each year both to operate all city bus services in Dublin, all of which were considered non commercially viable (a PSO Grant) and a capital spending grant to purchase any new vehicles that it has decided to order or spend on other areas. There were no conditions of what the money could be used for, it was decided by Dublin Bus and over time, concerns grew that this money was not being spent in the most wise way and the service was not being developed.

    So from 2012 the system was changed so that the company would get paid it's PSO grant over the course of the year, based on services operated and if any strikes occured the company would not be paid for those days and there would also be penalties and bonuses levied to the companies dependent on their performance as an incentive to operate the services contracted in line with a new contract that had key performance indicators since before there was little targets for the company to meet.

    Around the same time the capital grant was removed from Dublin Bus and assigned back to the regulator who would then ask Dublin Bus what vehicles they would like and would purchase them on behalf of Dublin Bus to a specification that was approved since whilst development of the on bus environment was promised for many years by Dublin Bus in exchange for additional funding, it was not forthcoming so the regulator felt it had to act.

    The regulator specified individual seating which has been successful in attracting patrons out of their cars, better heating and air cooling systems, on board audio visual stop announcements, on board monitors to show seats upstairs, real time information, smart card technology, Wireless internet access as well as a custom designed, exclusively for Dublin Bus, middle door package.

    The middle door package contained a special mirror, a dedicated monitor in the cab just showing the middle doors, loud buzzers inside and outside the bus, two cameras, slower moving, push out non fold up doors and special floor markings and signage and paneling above and around the doors in order to ally all the concerns that were made at specification stage, which were thought to be ironed out.

    When the vehicles were delivered suddenly problems were found again and claims were made from the unions that they wanted the company to accept all liability for all middle door accidents if they were to use the middle doors, which no company can possibly accept and neither would their insurers let them, because it essentially means the driver can be grossly negligent or irresponsible and not be held to account.

    Since then the most recent argument used is that a court case has been referenced from almost 20 years ago when it said in a Labour Court that the companies instruction to the staff that they must use the middle doors all the time no matter what was unfair and the drivers must be given discretion. I actually agree with that court ruling.

    However the problem is that the court ruling was designed to protect drivers from disciplinary action from the company when it was obviously unsafe to open the doors, of which there was very very few of these incidents. This ruling is now being used as an excuse not to operate the doors at all, rather than what it was originally intended for, which as to give the drivers a right to not use the doors on the rare occasion it was unsafe.

    I don't think that they should be on minimum wage, but at the same time I don't believe they should be on the levels that they are on. Since it's a public company I agree there is a case for them to be on slightly higher wages than average for the industry, but since it is a public service, funded by hard pressed taxpayers who have a much more raw deal in society as a whole in Ireland compared to the UK, it does need to be run in a way which gives value for money for taxpayers.

    And management are incompetent, especially when it comes to the commercial arm of the company. However the problem is despite the fact the company has two arms, the company at it's heart is one, in the long run I think that separating the commercial arm from the PSO arm totally would be a fantastic move - it would stop one arm dragging down the other like is a fairly big part here, however the problem is the people who remain with the commercial arm are going to be left worse off and most people are going to want to stay with the PSO arm.

    I already took a pay cut in one company during the recession to save the department as did a number of my colleagues. Our department was saved because of that. Another department didn't take a pay cut and they were all laid off and made redundant and their jobs were outsourced elsewhere. I was bitter that some management didn't take their share of the cuts, but I'd rather take a cut and have a job than not take one and be on the dole a few weeks later.

    The difference with working in the public sector versus private is that in the public sector it's very very rare a company goes to the wall and collapses, normally it is rescued in some form by the taxpayer, that safeguard is not there in the private sector and for a large part is why people in public companies tend to be caught up in this kind of dispute more often than private companies in my view.

    By the way - cuts in BE are all over, everyone is taking a cut to their perks, terms and conditions and suchlike, clerical staff are being hit a lot as well because they are the next source of ineffiency in the company.
     
  26. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    This is essentially what is going on at the moment - the company have said that if measures are not taken there is a real chance that the company could go bust and action must be taken sooner rather than later or they will all lose their job. It is not going to happen just yet, but if there is an all out strike then it raises the stakes considerably since it will just weaken the position of the company even more.

    As I stated earlier, what they are really looking for is an intervention by the government, regulator or department of transport who may well, bearing in mind that a snap election could happen in Ireland at any time, want to get this problem out of the way through fear it could damage them at an upcoming election since this dispute is headline news on national media for most days in the last few weeks.

    I believe they honestly felt that the package they put together in order to stop this happening was enough. However the regulator was keen to try and bring the bus service and the on-board environment up to date and perhaps along with Dublin Bus, underestimated the efforts that would be required to do that and perhaps should have got a legal agreement in place before ordering the vehicles with double doors.
     
  27. Teflon Lettuce

    Teflon Lettuce Member

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    but they didn't get union agreement in writing in a legally enforceable document?

    considering the problems they had had with the Atlanteans and GAC's with dual doors surely it would've been prudent for the management to have made sure they had a legally binding agreement from the union before making any agreement with the regulator themselves?

    whilst the current management might be TRYING to sort out the mess it seems, from the sidelines at least, that this is the result of years of incompetent, weak, ineffectual management... it makes me wonder where they get their management trainees from... British Leyland Management School perhaps?
     
  28. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    The problem was that I doubt that any operator can get a binding agreement to use doors at all times because there are obviously going to be a minority of occasions where it is not safe to use middle doors (road works, break downs, accidents etc) so there is always going to have to be some discretion used, and the moment the word discretion is put in to an agreement, it can be used at every bus stop, by every driver since he will just say he is using his discretion.

    One of my big issues with Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann over the years is that most of them are just people who have been working in the company for many years or in senior managements cases are often career civil servants, career public sector workers or the like who have absolutely zero background in public transport, which does a dis-service to everyone in my view.

    The commercial sector of BE is the biggest disaster, they are such a reactive force, it's incredible, they'll leave schedules and services idle for years without any development until someone else does and often by the time they react it's too late anyway. With proper management they could have filled all the gaps in the commercial market as they arose, but they didn't, someone else did, but they sat back on their heels and let other people overtake them.

    As I said, I'm far from the biggest fan of management of these companies, although at the same time I do appreciate that it's a tough job and they have their hands somewhat tied in some respects because a lot of stuff is voted on and has to be approved by unions whereas in other countries this stuff would be down to management and unions would have no say and they'd just have to get on with it.

    The current situation where the union blames everyone but themselves and the management blames simply the union and the staff is ludicrous because they all have a part to play in this and also the politicians and the department of transport in the early 90s and much of the 00s who basically allowed this stuff to build up whilst they neglected any kind of real oversight over any of it and taxpayers money also have to take their fair share of the blame.
     
  29. DT611

    DT611 Member

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    Completely agree.

    I never once said they were badly paid i have agreed they are decently paid so again you are accusing me of saying things i didn't.

    It is a job, so of course they aren't going to have a problem getting people. However many will want to get to bus eireann and dublin bus eventually if they can.

    That's rich coming from you.

    I'm well aware of irish rail's failings thanks. Oh and the dogs on the street knew the amount of trains weren't deliverable with signalling alone but of course only signalling was paid for.

    No they are pushing it because they want some vanity project. It was never deliverable without infrastructural investment such as quad-tracking to make it happen and the dogs on the street knew it and still know it.

    The only people on 60k are those in middle management. the staff who would be effected by being forced to transfer had the unions not insured that was left to the staff, could only dream of 60k.

    The concerns raised by the union were legitimate concerns. some of those concerns were satisfied once the plan was actually revealed, others are being negotiated through to insure the best outcome for all.
     
  30. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Last edited: 20 Feb 2017

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