Crisis at Bus Eireann

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

  1. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    In what way?
     
  2. 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
  3. 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.
     
  4. 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?
     
  5. 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.
     
  6. 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.
     
  7. 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?
     
  8. 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.
     
  9. 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
  10. 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.
     
  11. 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.
     
  12. 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!
     
  13. 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.
     
  14. 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?
     
  15. 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.
     
  16. 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.
     
  17. 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?
     
  18. 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.
     
  19. 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.
     
  20. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    Last edited: 20 Feb 2017

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