Talks aimed at resolving the Bus Éireann dispute have adjourned without agreement raising the prospect of industrial action at the company.
Union sources said that unions had been fully committed to engaging on the "efficiency-based agenda" to deal with the direct crisis at loss-making commercial service Expressway, but had not been prepared to countenance any cuts in the take home pay of workers.
Bus Éireann has accused the unions of showing no flexibility in discussions at the Workplace Relations Commission.
It is understood that unions will now await a response from Bus Éireann management to indicate the company's next move.
If it moves to implement unilateral cuts in pay and conditions, unions have already pledged to commence an all-out indefinite strike.
In a statement, Bus Éireann said it was extremely disappointed that talks had broken down after seven days of engagement.
It said that given the seriousness of the financial position, It always had a very tight time-frame to implement actions.
However, the company stressed that it had engaged in good faith with the aim of reaching a negotiated settlement with unions.
Bus Éireann said that despite their public pronouncements about engaging on addressing the high level of inefficiencies at the company, there had been no flexibility shown during their engagement on efficiency measures.
They said that while inefficiencies had been acknowledged and accepted by unions, there had been a refusal to accept any reduction of earnings, including unnecessary overtime earnings.
The management team will now report to the board of Bus Éireann to urgently reassess what further action is now appropriate and necessary, to safeguard the organisation and the service it provides.
If the CIÉ group board approves of the survival plan, it is understood that it may authorise a transfer of funds to Bus Éireann to address the short-term cash flow situation, and potentially to fund a redundancy programme.
That would then permit the Bus Éireann board to sign-off on the company's annual accounts.
Bus Éireann lost €9.4m last year, and is currently losing €50,000 a day.
At that rate, the company's losses will hit €18m this year, unless significant action is taken.
Its survival plan aimed to secure a total of €30m in savings, with €12m of that due from payroll.