Longford Leader Columnist Mattie Fox: Ireland is a badly divided country and things are getting worse

Mattie Fox

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Mattie Fox

Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox

Dublin Bus drivers who operate routes that are being transferred to a UK company, and who will still hold on to their jobs, are receiving €1.4 million in compensation for the disturbance caused to those Dublin Bus drivers!

The vast majority of the drivers who operate services that are being transferred to the Go-Ahead Co., are being transferred to other routes, which might require them to work slightly different rosters.

Isn’t that something?

We are now in a situation that a driver who works with Dublin Bus is being compensated for the awful intrusion on his or her life of moving to another route.

For the very same wages, let’s not forget.

Yet some of those who are with Dublin Bus are receiving up to €6,250 for the egregious loss of comfort.

Under assurances provided by Government in 2015 no driver will be forced to move from Dublin Bus.

That’s fair enough in itself, since nobody wants to see drivers being rendered unemployed under any circumstances.

But to receive compensation for working different routes, is absolutely incredible, in my view.

According to Martin Wall, writing in the Irish Times, “One highly placed union source said the new deal was “ a direct consequence of the then FG/Labour government decision to privatise State jobs”.

“Whilst we were successful in ensuring that in 2015 all Dublin Bus drivers were maintained in employment with the company, the fact is that both Dublin Bus and the trade unions always recognised and accepted that the industrial relations issues associated with stripping over 240 drivers of their current roster- based conditions would require to be satisfactorily addressed in advance of the transfer of 10 per cent of State-owned bus routes to the UK multinational Go-Ahead, which was awarded a five-year, taxpayer-funded €172 million contract to operate these services.”

Well, well.

The drivers are now required to move from Dun Laoghaire to Donnybrook. An astonishing distance of maybe four miles at its most distant point. In reality most drivers probably live within three miles of Donnybrook - and in both these examples I am being generous.

What would a man or woman in rural Ireland do if confronted with moving employment, with full state pensions, state holidays, special conditions, for three miles or so?

I doubt very much if they’d raise so much as a whisper.

Martin Wall quotes the same union source as saying:

“Supplanting State jobs which have reasonable terms and conditions (in actual fact excellent pay and conditions), with low-pay, yellow-pack labour is something that politicians who say they are anti-privatisation need to oppose, should proposals emerge for future incursions into State-owned public services.”

Yes indeed, at times like this you’d almost be forgiven for hating unions, when they can achieve such extraordinary conditions for urban workers.

You’d certainly be forgiven for wondering why on earth does the Government give such juicy deals to urban workers, while leaving rural workers (we won’t speak about those who never work but draw dole all the time) in limbo.

Ireland is a badly divided country, and getting worse.

This is the disparity that contributes to the state Rural Ireland is in, currently.