Minister Shane Ross and government happy to sit on the sidelines as Bus Éireann strike looms - Imelda Munster TD
Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Imelda Munster TD has accused Minister Shane Ross of happily "standing on the sidelines" as Bus Éireann workers prepare to begin all-out strike action from Monday.
Deputy Munster demanded that Minister Ross, who she described as "the invisible man of Irish politics", involve himself in a practical way in the search for a resolution.
Speaking at Leaders' Questions today in the Dáil, she challenged Minister Richard Burton on the refusal of the Minister and the Government to get a grip on the crisis.
"The Minister for Transport and this Government are putting their privatisation agenda ahead of the needs of the citizens of this state. The government is happy to sit on the sidelines and to let the chaos unfold. The Taoiseach said this week that both he and the cabinet fully support the Minister for Transport.
"The workers of Bus Éireann will embark on all out strike action this Monday
"They will do so in the face of the determination of government and management to burden workers with the financial responsibility for the crisis.
"This is a crisis created by government policy and mismanagement.
"I challenged Minister Richard Burton as to what is the government's plan to get involved to ensure the resolution of the crisis.
"His assertion, that it is not appropriate to "politicise" the matter, smacks of the pass-the-buck attitude with which Minister Ross has approached this dispute from the start.
"This has been an ongoing issue in Bus Éireann for quite some time. It has only recently evolved into an industrial dispute. Obviously, Shane Ross as the Minister has a role to play in the crisis and it is ridiculous to call it political interference when he is the shareholder.
"Minister Bruton said that funding under the Public Service Obligation contract has been increased. However, the reality is that we still have the lowest PSO funding levels in Europe. It was decimated by way of cuts during the financial crisis, while service levels have increased.
"It clear to anybody watching that this is about the implementation of the government's policy of outsourcing and privatisation. It is about a race to the bottom when it comes to workers' rights.
"It is incredible that Minister Ross, and the government, is still refusing to intervene in the jaws of all-out strike on Monday."