The Minister for Transport has given a commitment that no Bus Éireann or Dublin Bus employees will be forced to transfer to private sector operators when 10% of bus routes are put out to private tender.

SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union are due to stage seven days of strike action in May.

The action comes amid fears the tender process will ultimately result in a fall in pay and conditions for workers at the two State bus companies.

However, Paschal Donohoe said today that following discussions with Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus he understood that due to projected growth in the bus market, there would be no requirement for any current employees to transfer to the private sector.

He also undertook that there would be no threat to the terms and conditions of members.

The minister appealed to unions to attend the Labour Relations Commission to allow that commitment to be formalised.

He said other issues which unions referred to as a justification for the threatened strikes related to Government policy and legislation rather than industrial relations.

He again appealed to unions to call off the strikes which commence later this week on Friday and Saturday.

Responding to Mr Donohoe's comments, the General Secretary of the NBRU said that while he welcomed "some of the positivity" contained in Minister Donohoe's statement, the bus strikes at the weekend remain scheduled to go ahead.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Dermot O'Leary said they was "no intention at this remove of calling it off just now", but said the LRC was "a place they had done business many times in the past" and he was always prepared to go into talks.

He said it was quite unfortunate that the National Transport Authority was absent again from any assurances and it was left to a Government minister and the trade unions to have a public row on the provision of public transport for citizens of the State.

Mr O’Leary said it was all very fine for the Minister to guarantee the terms and conditions of current staff but there was nothing in the Minister's statement that would give them any comfort in relation to 2019, when the existing Public Service Obligation Contracts end.