Dublin Bus has 582 surplus drivers due to the reduction in services because of the Covid-19 emergency - and the company has warned unions that funding constraints may materialise when the emergency ends.

The surplus arose following the decision by the National Transport Authority and the Government to reduce transport services to "Saturday Plus" levels because of a significant fall in passenger numbers.

Dublin Bus now wants staff to use up five days of annual leave between now and 5 May, when the situation will be reviewed.

According to a bulletin from the National Bus and Rail Union to members, the original company request on 29 March was for workers to take ten days of annual leave between now and the end of June.

However, following consultation with members, unions informed Dublin Bus that the proposal for drivers to take ten days annual leave between now and the end of June was "unacceptable" - and asked the company to consider other options before applying the annual leave option, including voluntary annual leave, swap rest days, special (unpaid leave), self-isolation, illness, all of which would be contingent on the circumstances at each garage.

Today, following a meeting this morning, that demand has been reduced to five days over the next month, with a review on 5 May.

The NBRU bulletin states that management expressed concerns about the future viability of the company in light of the wider industrial environment, including 400,000 job losses and pay cuts in a number of sectors. 

It says Dublin Bus informed unions that despite being an essential service supplying public transport, the company "is not immune to the current crisis, and constraints over funding may materialise post crisis".

The company said all its proposals were designed to enable Dublin Bus to return to normal when the crisis abates.

The NBRU says that after some "acrimonious" debate, the company proposed that staff with accrued leave will be required to take it as per previous correspondence.

Drivers will have to use up to five days annual leave between today and 5 May, which they can take in a block, with the situation to be reviewed on that date. 

Days can be added to the beginning and end of long or short weekends.

The NBRU reassured members that it had warned the company that at the May review, it will refuse to discuss any measures that would involve "delving any further into staff annual leave".

It states: "We are acutely aware that the 2009 recession resulted in a loss of over 200 marked in positions, and recruitment was frozen for several years". 

A comment has been requested from Dublin Bus.