The outlook for Dublin Bus and its employees is stark if drivers fail to accept the latest cost reduction proposals from a special group appointed to investigate the dispute, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and Minister of State Alan Kelly have warned.
Bus drivers belonging to SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union have already rejected a number of cost cutting plans including a Labour Court recommendation - and went on strike for three days over the summer.
In a statement, the ministers welcomed the publication of final proposals formulated following a last-ditch investigation by former SIPTU official Noel Dowling and industrial relations expert Ultan Courtney.
Those proposals have been accepted by the company.
The ministers said all sides understand and accept that the financial challenges facing CIE require cost savings that are fundamental to the group continuing to fund its activities and service its borrowings.
They have appealed to Dublin Bus drivers to agree to the final proposals in the interests of Dublin Bus, its employees and the travelling public - and warn that if the proposals are rejected, there is no realistic alternative.
However, they say are clear that the outlook for Dublin Bus and its employees is very stark if this final effort does not succeed.
In their report delivered yesterday to the special group comprised of IBEC, ICTU and government officials, Mr Dowling and Mr Courtney outline some of the "difficult options" being considered if the proposals are rejected.
They note that if a strike happens, it will be prolonged and very difficult to end - given that all processes have been exhausted.
They say that in that event, there will be no winners, and all sides will be worse off.
SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union are expected to ballot on the proposals on 24th October.
All other grades at Dublin Bus have already agreed cost reduction measures in their sectors.
In July 2012, the Cabinet approved a bailout of E36 million for CIE because of the company's financial difficulties.
However, that special allocation was conditional on rapid implementation of cost savings totalling €11.7m a year and the sale of assets.
The original target date for agreeing payroll savings with unions was August 2012.
To date no payroll savings have been implemented.