Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said the Government will stand by Dublin Bus in the event of industrial action by SIPTU bus drivers who rejected the company's cost reduction plan last week.

In a joint statement with Minister of State Alan Kelly, Mr Varadkar said they noted the decision by the board of Dublin Bus to proceed with implementing its cost recovery plan on 17 November.

All other Dublin Bus grades, including half the drivers who are represented by the National Bus and Rail Union, have accepted the cuts.

SIPTU is to re-ballot members next week on whether or not to take industrial action.

Sources said last night that they wanted to renew the mandate in light of changed circumstances.

If the SIPTU drivers vote to take industrial action, it is unclear whether the union leadership would definitely sanction it.

Mr Varadkar’s statement said he had today briefed the Cabinet on the need to deliver savings under the plan to safeguard the future of Dublin bus, along with the jobs and services it provides.

It added that the Cabinet agreed that there is no basis for further negotiations or interventions as all avenues have been exhausted.

It then states:  "The Government is fully supportive of Dublin Bus and will stand by the company in the event of industrial action".

Sources within SIPTU said they would have to assess what industrial action could achieve, particularly given the fact that the drivers are the only group in the company opposing the cuts.

Dublin Bus said it is vital that the plans are implemented without more industrial action.

It said: "Further industrial action at this point is totally unnecessary given that the majority of employees have accepted the Cost Recovery Plan.

"It would severely damage the company's reputation and lead to increased financial losses."

Drivers staged a three-day strike in August over the measures, which the company says will save €11m.