Unions at Bus Éireann have reacted angrily to a report that management are to cut overtime and eliminate the carryover of annual leave.

It was revealed earlier this week that consultants had advised the company that axing the long distance loss-making Expressway service was the only viable option to steady the company, which could lose €8m this year.

The Irish Times today reported that the first phase of Bus Éireann's financial plan would involve banning overtime.

Dermot O'Leary of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union said this was geared towards conditioning staff into accepting cuts to terms and conditions.

He also said it could be counter-productive as cutting overtime would have a direct impact on the ability of Bus Éireann to operate all of its services and may result in the National Transport Authority imposing sanctions and withdrawing some of the Public Service Obligation funding it is contractually obliged to provide.

The union already has a mandate to take industrial action if deemed necessary and it will consider this at a meeting on Monday.

He also called on Minister for Transport Shane Ross to clarify his position on how to safeguard the company.

SIPTU said it will not allow terms and conditions of workers in Expressway to be eroded in order to make up for a financial shortfall.

"SIPTU members in the Expressway arm of Bus Éireann will not have their terms and conditions of employment sacrificed, so as to subsidise the abysmal failure of the State to provide the requisite investment for an essential national public intercity bus service," said SIPTU's Greg Ennis.

"We are calling on the management of Bus Éireann to immediately release its proposed 'plan' for changes in the company to their workers' trade unions rather than continue to drip feed it into the media," added Mr Ennis.

In a statement today, Bus Éireann said changes were urgently required to address the company's adverse financial situation.

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But it added that no rural communities would be left behind.

However, Irish Rural Link has said rural routes would be the first casualty.

CEO Seamus Boland has called on Minister Ross to look at the Public Service Obligation and meet with them to discuss this.

Mr Boland said cuts would affect pensioners and those without cars and he said the services were still important and relevant.

Mr Boland said the service has not been fit for purpose for a long time.

He said private services would pick profitable routes as they were not subsidised.

Meanwhile, the Green Party has called on Mr Ross to protect core services in any changes.

The party's transport spokesperson Councillor Ciarán Cuffe said: "Any changes at Bus Éireann must ensure that links to smaller towns and communities are not eliminated in order to make savings.

"They must also listen to bus users who are seeking to commute from these communities to employment in larger towns and cities," added Mr Cuffe.