Unions attended the Workplace Relations Commission for talks over the dispute at Bus Éireann after planned industrial action was suspended.

Strike action planned for today was deferred on Friday to allow talks to get under way.

The company has also deferred implementing cuts to its pay bill as well as certain routes.

Talks adjourned this evening and are due to resume at 11am. The talks may take a number of days.

In a statement this evening, SIPTU's Willie Noone said "Bus Éireann workers are determined to play their part in resolving this dispute but not at the expense of their terms and conditions of employment which they have fought hard to secure over many long years.

"Our plan is to ensure that decent full-time jobs remain, that routes serving rural communities remain and that garages providing local sustainable employment remain."

National Bus and Rail Union General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said the NBRU had a four-point plan and will also oppose any closure of routes.

He said he was not optimistic ahead of the talks, but added that the fact they are taking place at all was a positive.

But he said he had told workers over the weekend to remain on a "war footing". He said if things do not work out over the next few days they will have to go to the picket lines.

Mr O'Leary said they remain wedded to the belief that all the stakeholders should be involved for them to get a sustainable solution - namely the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority.

He said they need to buy in on this because they are the ones who set the policy and fund transport in Ireland.

Mr O'Leary said a sustainable resolution will not be reached with workers and the company alone.