Bus Éireann management has confirmed to unions their proposals for urgent cost reduction measures aimed at addressing mounting losses and avoiding the threat of insolvency. 

All discretionary expenditure is to be banned, and all costs must be justified; No unplanned bus hire will be sanctioned - any unapproved unplanned bus hire will not be paid; There will be a general ban on all unplanned or unrostered overtime, including rest day working for all grades; There will also be a general ban on backfilling of absenteeism; Cross functional working in all grades will apply, as per existing agreements.

The document says that all proposed recruitment and filling of vacancies must be personally approved by the chief executive officer; There will be no carryover of annual leave, and flexitime for clerical staff will cease from 27 January; From today, such staff will not be allowed to build up additional hours under flexitime arrangements.

The standard working day for clerical staff will revert to 9am-5.15pm Monday to Thursday and 9am-5pm on Friday ; All drivers and inspectors will be on a five over seven-day working week.

There are new rules on how working time is averaged, when overtime will apply and absence management; Spare drivers will have to do other work if on pay and not rostered to drive - including "out-based" operations and late night duties.

Changes will also apply in relation to drivers performing "first user" service checks, and in-cab telematics systems will be activated immediately to assist with fuel efficiency.

Last week, incoming CEO Ray Hernan warned staff that the company's 2016 losses were now put at €8m - and that the company could be insolvent within 18 months.

Around the same time, a leaked report by consultants Grant Thornton recommended the closure of loss-making division Expressway, which handles intercity routes, with up to 516 redundancies.

However, Bus Éireann says that while it plans to retain Expressway, it requires urgent cuts to keep the company viable.

Unions have insisted that Bus Éireann's difficulties cannot be addressed in isolation from the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority - and have argued that the level of State subvention to the company is inadequate.

They have also warned that without overtime, the company would be unable to maintain all its services.

The unions have pledged to resist any cuts to members' pay and conditions, and have already balloted for industrial action in the event that the company moves to implement cuts unilaterally.

General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union Dermot O'Leary has said the union's members at Bus Éireann will not be co-operating with any changes to current terms and conditions or work practices "in the absence of an agreed forum being convened to discuss all the issues which have contributed to the crisis at Expressway".

In a statement Mr O'Leary said "the notion that tinkering around the edges of staff entitlements will resolve this problem is simply ludicrous and will only serve to further antagonise workers at Bus Éireann."

Bus Éireann says it is making all efforts to ensure that no passengers are discommoded as the company introduces vital cost savings and necessary efficiencies.

A spokesperson for the NTA has strongly rejected union criticisms of its policy on opening routes to private tender and granting additional bus licences.

The NTA says its primary task is to ensure that the travelling public in Ireland has a safe, reliable, and value-for-money public transportation system.

It also rejected union claims that NTA staff had received significant bonuses.

Meanwhile the Department of Social Protection has ruled out any additional State funding this year to reimburse Bus Éireann for carrying pensioners under the Free Travel Scheme.

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