Committee Reports::Report No. 04 - Córas Iompar Éireann::20 June, 1979::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Dé Céadaoin, 20 Meitheamh, 1979

Wednesday, 20 June, 1979

Members Present:

SENATOR EOIN RYAN in the chair


Barry Desmond,


Des Hanafin,

Liam Lawlor,

Justin Keating.

Tom O’Donnell,




Mr. Michael Cox, General Secretary, National Association of Transport Employees; Mr. Desmond Casey, Irish Secretary, Transport Salaried Staffs Association; Mr. James Cullen, Branch Secretary (C.I.E.), Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union; Mr. Christopher Kirwan, Senior Official (Transport), Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union; and Mr. Patrick Brogan, Secretary, C.I.E. Trade Union Group, called and examined.

272. Chairman.—Thank you very much for coming along, gentlemen. I would like to apologise once again for what happened on the last occasion when we were unable to see you because time ran out. We are very glad that you agreed to meet us on this occasion. We have a list here of the unions you represent. We were just wondering if you would tell us what grades the various unions represent. For instance, the National Association of Transport Employees, what areas would they be involved in?

Mr. Cox.—It would be basically in rail, rail operatives, those who man trains, drivers. The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union would share membership in that field of activity. We would also represent some people in what is referred to as the shops in Inchicore and such places and we would have some people employed in the road freight section of C.I.E.

273. Chairman.—We are on tape now. Firstly, I want to let you know that you are being recorded and, secondly, to ask everybody to speak up so that he will be picked up properly.

Then we have the Transport Salaried Staffs Association. I suppose that would be in all areas of clerical and administrative staff. Would that be the situation?

Mr. Casey.—Yes, we cater for clerical, administrative, technical and professional people and management staff in the company; and all the allied grades below clerical—shorthand-typists, machine operators, all those categories.

274. Chairman.—Then, of course, the ITGWU would be——

Mr. Kirwan.—We are the vestigial reminder of the old syndicalist movement; we traverse the spectrum.

275. Chairman.—I see. And Mr. Brogan has been appointed fairly recently as secretary to the C.I.E. Trade Union Group.

If any of the witnesses would like to make any opening statement, he is free to do so.

Mr. Casey.—Have the committee been furnished with copies of the summary of the unions’ views?

276. Chairman.—Yes, we have that.* Perhaps I could open the proceedings by seeking your view on industrial relations. It is, I think, true to say that having regard to the very large number of trade unionists who are working for CIE and the huge number of passengers and consequently potential complainants, industrial relations have been good. Nevertheless there have been disputes in the past. Would any member of the unions like to comment on what are the difficulties preventing better industrial relations?

Mr. Cox.—If I might contribute on the rail side, I suppose it would be true to say that on that side industrial relations are excellent. If we take the number of man hours lost on the railways—they have been so infrequent—the last dispute would date back to 1950 or 1951. When one considers that the work force on the rail side is spread from Sligo to Cork, and the job that unions have in communicating with their members—people working in isolation —either the work force have been very receptive to discipline or else the unions catering for them have done a very good job. Both the transport union and myself in that field of activity with railway workers have succeeded fairly well in keeping them advised of all developments. Tradition cannot be overlooked; by and large working on the railways is a tradition, handed down from father to son. Some of that is now disappearing in so far as there are other people coming in, particularly on the Dublin scene and in some other major cities, where that tradition is dying. But the tradition was very helpful always in every field of activity. The dedication has always existed with jobs being handed down from father to son. Coupled with that is the fact that by and large railway workers tend to acknowledge and respect leadership—if I might refer to it as such— the leadership that comes from the trade unions catering for railway workers. They tend to accept their opinions and leadership. That has been my experience and that of Mr. Kirwan also. We operate on a group system. We take joint decisions. It is not our policy to fall out among ourselves. Invariably we come up with solutions that are, by and large, acceptable to the membership of both unions. The work force in CIE has been reduced from something in the region of 20,000 to approximately 16,000. This has come about primarily, I would suggest, on the rail side where there has been a considerable reduction in staff and where goodwill has been forthcoming from the two unions. I am talking about the operative field now because Mr. Casey will be talking about clerical and managerial staff. Were it not for deep understanding by those people, I do not think this would ever have got off the ground. We have had to deal with very unusual situations, particularly in isolated parts of rural Ireland, where alternative employment was not readily available. As of now I could say that I am not aware—having reduced the work force on the rail side by anything from 2,000 to 3,000 in the last two or three years—of anyone who has suffered undue hardship as a result. By and large there has been an acceptance of voluntary severance and of terms being right for the people who opted to go. The people who work on the railways feel there is a ray of hope for them when they hear of an increase in the volume of passenger travel. Perhaps the average railway worker is happy about the fuel shortage; perhaps sometimes he would be hopeful it would increase the number of train users. Of course, we were somewhat disappointed to hear that fares are to be increased. Going back two or three years, when CIE set out to increase the fares, there was a drastic fall-off in passenger travel, particularly at weekends when private hire buses were used and operated freely around the country at the expense of CIE railways.

I wonder is it the right approach? I fully realise and accept that what everybody talks about today is money and the shortage of money. We are fully conscious of the subvention. I fully appreciate a Government saying to CIE: “There is a certain subvention that will be payable but you will have to do your own thing also and endeavour to keep that subvention down.” I can understand that. I am just wondering if it was the right time for CIE to increase their fares. Perhaps to curry favour with the travelling public would have been more desirable at this point in time and get more people to use the passenger train services. I travel fairly regularly by train myself and I understand that a considerable number of people have come back to rail travel.

I wished to make those comments, being a rural man myself, having worked on the railways in 1945. I am a Roscommon man. I have a fair knowledge of what is referred to as the undeveloped west. In so far as CIE thinking is concerned, I would say— and I am not putting this up as a stick to beat them, so to speak—they tend to cater for people who use the mainline to Cork, the mainline to Limerick, Waterford and so on. They look upon people who go to the west as descendants of Cromwell who had no choice but to go there anyway. This is reflected particularly in the rolling stock in use in western areas which is terrible. Coupled with the rolling stock is the permanent way. I know that for quite a number of years a question mark hung over the railways: do we need railways; should we keep railways, is there any future in having railways? Railways tended to deteriorate and there was the question of keeping them manageable or in some type of condition. A major development is taking place as far as CIE are concerned in trying to update their tracks but the most important thing from their point of view is rolling stock.

Some of the people at this table—particularly I would suggest Deputy O’Donnell— would be aware of the new type of rolling stock available to Limerick people as well as to Cork people, different from that available to people in the west. CIE, I am sure, hold the view that everyone has the same entitlement to proper type rolling stock. Some of their rolling stock they are just managing to keep together. I do not know whether Governments down the years have been alerted or alerted themselves to it, or if sufficient pressure has been brought to bear on them for a clearcut policy on the need to maintain railways, or indeed if there is a policy on railways. There cannot be a policy of cutting-back on the railway network because it cannot be any smaller; it cannot be reduced any further because it really links Dublin with the main terminals. There are no branch lines in existence at present; they have all been done away with. Therefore, I hold the view that what is left must be maintained, and at the proper standard.

I think this country needs a rail network. The only way one can ensure that there will be passengers is to give them reasonable opportunities of travelling in comfort. The existing rolling stock does not give the travelling public any incentive to travel by train. I do not think anyone particularly minds paying the fare travelling by train if he gets the comfort that should go with it, the dining car facilities and so on. But too often that is lacking. I am happy to note that a decision has been made—when the money will be forthcoming is another matter—to electrify the suburban rail services. This is most desirable and long overdue. The type of coaches being used on suburban services, I suppose, would be reminiscent of what was used in transporting the Army in the 1920s. They are completely outdated and not suitable for suburban traffic. The Government appear to recognise this and feel something must be done about the suburban services. They are talking about electrification and I think money has been voted for that.

The second priority for CIE, in my opinion, is rolling stock generally because, even allowing for the type of rolling stock they have at present, at weekends they have to take some rolling stock off the suburban lines in order to supplement what they have for travelling to points out of Heuston Station. Take the example of an evening train to Ballina from Heuston on a Friday evening, apparently made up of suburban rolling stock. One can imagine how comfortable that will be all the way to Ballina. It is not fit for the suburban services so how can it be fit for such a journey? I am not being critical of CIE here; I am not criticising CIE management; this is the best they can do. There must be an overall commitment on the part of the Government and from everyone in a position of power to recognise the need to do something about CIE rolling stock. It is top priority and it is something I would appeal to you, gentlemen, to consider very carefully at Committee level and to make a strong recommendation in that connection.

277. Senator Keating.—Is this for Irish-manufactured coaches?

Mr. Cox.—Yes. CIE have been telling us for quite some time—and this is something to which I might refer—that they cannot get involved, as CIE, in building their own rolling stock. Any reasonable person can understand that because it takes expertise. I am not suggesting that in the work force in Inchicore there is not such expertise—but I can understand there is a need to get involved quickly in the provision of proper rolling stock. It is easy to understand that that can be done only by equipping oneself and having sufficient craftsmen to do the job. Perhaps in five or ten years time CIE will have provided themselves with the necessary rolling stock. Then, of course, the question will be asked: what do you do with the work force having made provision for your own rolling stock? What they have been saying is that they would much prefer some outside firm to come in and employ an Irish work force to do the job. That is something about which the trade unions are not too happy. They would prefer to see it being done by CIE at Inchicore, where there is the expertise and so on. I am not saying for or against, other than that I would be hopeful that, at the end of the day, the rolling stock would be provided, manufactured in Inchicore and built by Irish men and women.

Mr. Kirwan.—Chairman, may I get back to your question because I think it needs distilling?

278. Chairman.—My question was about industrial relations. Nevertheless, I want to make it clear that we are quite happy to hear your views about CIE generally without going into detail.

Mr. Kirwan.—I want to supplement what Mr. Cox has said. First of all, we will have to set the house rules. The public image of industrial relations in CIE is based primarily, if not exclusively, on what happens in the bus sector. CIE enjoy complete monopoly in rail transport, virtual monopoly over passenger transport and have 8 per cent of the road freight business in this State. They also operate a very substantial railway workshop and all the ancillary labour outlets that go to make up an integrated transport system.

The public do not hear anything about the railways which may be attributable to a long conservative approach because it was a gilt-edged employment at one time; one had to be able to read and write to get into it. People were conditioned from a very early age to use the very complex industrial relations machinery that exists within the railways. This happened because of the geographic spread. Railway stations and railway labour forces are scattered all over the country, some of them work on their own in little cabins and others work along permanent ways maintaining the permanent way itself.

Industrial relations problems become a reality when one has 3,000 men concentrated into one geographic location. This is the image the public have of CIE: “because busmen stop CIE is riddled with industrial relations problems; it has an incompetent management and it has an equally incompetent trade union structure.” I do not think I am being harsh in saying that, because the best of our industrial relations commentators reproduce this with tiresome efficiency every time we have a stoppage of the buses. The reason why we have stoppages of the buses and why those stoppages give rise to this canard that industrial relations are bad in CIE is because busmen have £53 per week. There was a determined resistance on the part of successive Governments in exercising pressure on whatever avenue of arbitration or conciliation was open or available to them to keep it at that level. The difficulty the busmen experienced was their inability to have their skill and expertise recognised simply and solely because they worked for an industry which required a subvention.

The latest figure is £38 million per year. Our main problem in CIE in respect of industrial relations is the continued publicity that is given to the need to subvent CIE. We do not hear about the need to subvent the Defence Forces and the police force; and we did not hear very much until recently about the need to maintain the communications sector of our infrastructure, posts and telegraphs. We do not hear of the need to maintain the civil service or local government which are all paid from current revenue but every time CIE sends its statement of accounts to the Dáil and asks for its subvention to be raised by £1 million or £2 million we have a plethora of editorials and many TDs taking advantage of the situation to screw CIE into the ground. The net effect of that in industrial relations terms is that they screw our people’s morale into the ground. We are sick, tired and weary of being beset by this perennial argument that we must provide a social service in terms of a railway system, that we must provide a social service in terms of an urban transport system for people who are too old, too poor, too young or too sick to drive their own cars; and we are expected to do it on the basis of a commercial criterion because that is the underpinning foundation of the 1950 Act. That cannot be done. The Labour Court is on record, reluctantly, and after a span of a quarter of a century—that is the length of time I have been dealing with that body—of producing a wage increase. on foot of a submission made to it, of staggering proportions in terms of comparisons to previous increases. The last one was £10 per week on top of a wage rate of £53 which hardly even now brings the basic wage of a bus driver to what could be regarded as being consistent with human dignity—a wage of £63 per week for pushing a vehicle the size of a small bungalow through a city designed in the Middle Ages and which has never come out of that period in terms of urban traffic.

Essentially, we are against this tremendous publicity that is coming from all quarters about the need to subvent CIE to the total exclusion of the need to subvent other parts of the infrastructure. We know, for example, that a damned sight more money has gone into financing foreign enterprises in this State albeit to provide new jobs, which were subsequently lost either through the desire of those people to leave the country because the margin of profitability had lapsed or for some other reason best known to their mother houses in Madison Avenue or London. We know that this money is being ploughed in, and yet in CIE when it gets to the stage where we are talking about £35 million or £36 million to keep it going everybody throws his hands in the air. The net result is that we have a lousy wage structure right across the board.

Mr. Cox will confirm our desire to maintain the railway system but he will also validate the fact that the wages are abysmal. The wages rate on the road freight element are abysmal. The craftsmen, until recently, were amongst the lowest paid in the craft area of industry. All this again relates to this need to subvent CIE and the failure of successive Governments to grapple with the reality that this is an essential part of the infrastructure and must be financed on that basis.

Mr. Cullen.—I have the job of looking after the busmen as branch secretary of the No. 9 branch. I am also, for my sins, chairman of the shopworkers group which looks after the maintenance, skilled and semi-skilled workers. The industrial relations scene all gets down to what happens on the buses. Mr. Kirwan put his finger on the problem, the low basic rate that has existed until recently. The hours of duty that busmen are called on to work is another problem. We have a situation now where from 9 o’clock onwards in the evening busmen are fair game for whatever mob are going home to beat them up. In 1976-77 we had a turnover of bus staff from 800 to 900 per year out of a total staff of 3,200. We have problems with management. We have a situation where busmen will say that the people who are running the city service now are not their own. What they mean is that they are not people who worked their way through the ranks. That was the criterion that worked for busmen over the years when CIE were making a profit of up to £250.000 per year. There was a different managerial structure there at that time but that has been changed. We feel that in this situation, good as management may be, to know busmen one has to be one of them; they are a unique race of people. The other point I wish to make is about the lack of interest that is shown by top management in their problems and to some of the points they put forward. All busmen want is to be able to do their work and do it right. It is necessary to have an instrument to do that and the instrument a busman wants is a bus. The type of bus on the road now is a “D” type which was built by Van Hool. After a couple of years they were breaking up on the road and falling to pieces. Prior to that we had an “A” type bus which the busmen appealed to the company not to produce. However, the company went ahead and produced it.

Basically, I believe that whatever major losses CIE have suffered one of the reasons was this type of bus because it has cost a fortune to keep on the road. Happily, it is disappearing. The company have now decided to introduce a new fleet of buses which are badly needed but we are having problems as to where they will be manufactured and the manner in which they will be manufactured. In my position as chairman of the skilled workers, I am aware that the skilled group are objecting strongly to anybody other than CIE building these buses because they believe they have the skill and expertise to do it. They maintain that they have always been doing it that way. Notwithstanding that, we have a situation where a third company is being spoken of for building these buses. The skilled men take a very dim view of that because they believe they are able to do the work and should be allowed do it. Basically, the real problem industrial-wise with busmen is (a) their low rate of wages and (b) their hours of duty. I worked as a bus conductor starting at 4.50 a.m. and finishing on occasions at 1.55 a.m. the following morning. My early duties could be from 4.50 a.m. in the morning until 7.30 a.m.

279. Deputy O’Donnell.—Two shifts?

Mr. Cullen.—Yes. The late shift could start any time from 1.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. and finish any time from 1.30 a.m. to 2.15 a.m. To provide busmen with a five-day week, which is what they have always set out to get, is almost impossible under a 40-hour week because to give them that based on 40 hours would mean that they could be asked to work spread-overs of anything up to 12½ or 14 hours. I want the Committee to realise what that means. It means that a person could walk in in the morning at 7.30, look after the peak period traffic until 9.30, break, return at 1.30 p.m. and look after the peak period, break and return again. They would have to do that to get a five-day-week. Their problems relate to their hours of duty, their low rates of pay and the feeling that there is a lack of interest being shown in them by the management, middle and top.

280. Deputy O’Donnell.—On the last point about the lack of genuine interest by management, middle and top, I would be obliged if Mr. Cullen would elaborate.

Mr. Cullen.—Some years ago we had inspectors checking buses on the roads. At that time I worked on the 7A and 8 routes and I had an inspector working from O’Connell Street to Blackrock and another working from Blackrock to Dalkey, early and late. This meant that the public were disciplined to produce their fares and the staff were disciplined to do their work. Management brought in a whole new system eliminating the inspector on the road and instead produced a staff car. Staff cars are like squad cars, they only come when trouble has started; they are not there when the trouble begins; they have to be sent for.

The net result was that people travelling on buses became undisciplined, refused to pay the correct fare and when they were asked for it would give rude replies. This resulted in rows. It became a joke within trade union circles that busmen signed a petition to get inspectors back on the road. That may sound funny but it happened. That was the major turnabout in the city service regarding the job. It flopped from that day on. Today one can travel on a bus in and out on my route for at least six months without meeting an inspector because of the new system. We told them that this would not work but that was ignored.

281. Chairman.—Are there no inspectors now?

Mr. Cullen.—There are but they have different duties. The company have introduced radio control and other duties.

Mr. Kirwan.—It is as well to explain that this is only part of the rationalisation techniques which have been pressed upon CIE because of the need to reduce their subvention. The parallel here is much the same as in the Garda Síochána when we had men on the beat being substituted by squad cars. That proved to be a social and protective failure. Similarly, on the buses the removal of the inspectors—what we call the ticket-checkers—was also a failure. It is only part of the overall technique which has reduced the railway employment of 6,000 by 1,100 in the last three years. It is hoped to reduce the Dublin city services by 50 per cent or 1,500 in the course of time. It is the technique which has reduced the road haulage element from 1,100 to 900. That happened because successive people who controlled CIE’s destiny —the Department of Transport and Power —insisted that they do it within a certain remit. That cannot be done in the overall sense because it creates the illusion the public have that industrial relations are abysmal in CIE and it creates the discontent among busmen referred to by Mr. Cullen.

It is also creating other problems now. We have highly skilled locomotive drivers. There is a built in “monopolescence” about a locomotive driver. Who is going to employ him other than CIE? The skills he acquires are peculiar to CIE and cannot be traded elsewhere. A bus driver is undoubtedly a skilled man and if he worked on the Continent he would fall within the designation of highly skilled. Those people are coming to us pointing out that five or six years ago people in trouble with the law who went before a district justice very often were let off if they joined the Army. It would be an economic and profitable exercise on the part of many bus drivers to join the Army now because their basic rate is £63 per week and, on the latest information I have available from the Defence Forces, the basic rate for a private after 12 months is £78. There is something wrong in the economic theory that dictates that we must have a national transport system and we will it into existence by statute; but we refuse to will into existence the where-with-all to maintain it. The rolling stock is falling apart on the railways. Management have had to cannibalise from mainline rolling stock to try to maintain the Dublin suburban end. Money cannot be got for substantial improvements.

282. Senator Keating.—I should like to ask some questions which relate in part to my own experience as a Deputy, in a particular constituency, and as Minister for Industry and Commerce. Apart from the essential issue of pay—I am not talking about the country in general but about Dublin and primarily about buses—there were other matters I kept encountering which have been raised by a number of people here. I found a great deal of worry, doubt and anger which spread from the people directly represented and directly involved to all the people working on transport, particularly in Dublin, about the question of stability and the future at Inchicore; the question of Van Hool; the question of where does one get a good product; should these things be imported; should they be made in Ireland; if they are made in Ireland should they be made privately or by the company and to what extent should the company co-operate with the makers? I am not suggesting that these are simple problems but they are ones I have encountered, apart from the problem of wages. Would anybody like to comment on that?

Mr. Brogan.—I should like the opportunity to comment on it as group secretary and partly because I was directly tied up with that particular situation in view of my membership of a particular union; I am a member of Congress now. I would trace the decline in the rolling stock within CIE to the decision taken by CIE to go out of their own building operations. Prior to the arrival of Van Hool McArdle about 450 people were employed at Spa Road building approximately three double-deck and three single-deck buses per week. They also had an integrated overhaul programme. That meant that the spares and parts that were in use on the building of the buses could equally be applied to the overhaul situation. In practice it meant that up to 14 virtually new buses, between new and overhauled, went on the road every week. When CIE took the decision to bring in Van Hool McArdle there were major State investments involved. There was also a fallback in production and industrial relations in that firm did not add anything to the situation.

Subsequently it proved disastrous from the company’s point of view. My understanding was that the cost of the buses to CIE was double that at which they were produced in their own workshop because they had some peculiar arrangement which they called the cost-plus. The cost of spares given to the company to maintain these buses, when they were sold from Van Hool McArdle, was outrageous compared with prices and parts available elsewhere. These are things which can be checked by reference to CIE’s books. My understanding is that there were major transfers of funds by other methods; it is alleged that there were actually large purchases of obsolete stock from somebody in the parent company, of no value whatsoever except that it was used to transfer public funds to someone in another company. Quite correctly, and I would trace it back to the present chairman, a decison was taken not to throw good money after bad and to wind up the particular operations. Unfortunately, this having happened, CIE did not learn the lesson. They proceeded then to enter into negotiations with other firms from outside Ireland, giving precisely the same old reasons—the reasons being that they would build CIE stock better and would build up an export market. This failed in the first instance with Van Hool.

The unions, the craft unions in particular —and Mr. Cullen makes the point of being chairman of the shopworkers’ trade union group, another group involved—are very worried and sceptical about the whole effort on behalf of the company. CIE keep entering into negotiations, first with American Motors, then with General Motors and now they are engaged in negotiations with a French-Canadian firm called Bombardier. The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union research department researched into American Motors and, quite frankly, they did not measure up. American Motors have their own particular records and I do not know for what reason the negotiations with CIE broke down. The next proposition was Bombardier. Again the unions are baffled by that because research on that one proves that they are a French-Canadian firm of about 500 people whose main claim to fame as far as we can gather is in manufacturing snow mobiles and mining equipment. Quite frankly we do not see the connection between the available skills here or why they have to bring in outside people. However, what they keep telling us is how well they recognise the skills of men in CIE but that they have not got the design skills, they have not got senior staff or supervisory staff capable of looking after it. In that connection Mr. Casey is in charge of the technical and supervisory staff and his union does not agree with the view taken of it.

The other point I would make, in regard to the question of Inchicore Works, is that that was essentially a rail works. Also there has been a policy, over the past number of years, of their not having proper maintenance of or repairs carried out to the existing rail stock. There has been a decline. It appears to us to be a deliberate policy of decline. What has happened now is that the stock is in such a state the unions are faced with the issue of either agreeing to let these people come in straightaway and provide it, or they will be seen as obstructionists having their own narrow, sectional interests in view. The unions say, look at other State-sponsored bodies particularly Aer Lingus who have had a very good record. In fact, they earned about £6 million on foreign contracts last year, showing an overall profit of £1 million which meant that the flying operation lost £5 million. But they showed a favourable balance because of this work carried out. Bord na Móna have a very good record also. They do not lack the courage to utilise their available skills. CIE ought not to be seen to be anywhere behind; they ought to take up the options again of developing the skills available in the country in a systematic way. It will not happen overnight but they have the necessary basis on which to build and this will provide the jobs.

We are not at any divergence with the company on the need for money, the need for commitment to develop the State public transport system. We are totally at one with the company on that issue. Where we diverge is when we say that the best method of doing that sort of thing is to create jobs for our own people within your own organisation, or perhaps there may be other ways around that. I think Aer Lingus have given a lead in one respect. British Rail have given some kind of a lead in regard to British Rail Engineering Ltd. If foreign contracts are available there are ways and means of having them implemented. My memory is that, when CIE were building their own buses, some of the African States made inquiries as to whether the workshops in CIE would be prepared to build 300 buses for them—this was only about a year or two before Van Hool McArdle took over—and the African States were told CIE would if allowed. Therefore if a product is being made and is built up over a period and gains from experience, there is no reason why foreign contracts cannot be obtained, if they are there in the first instance.

283. Chairman.—Could you just elaborate slightly? You said that quite apart from not manufacturing buses that even maintenance and repairs are not now being properly done.

Mr. Brogan.—I think I should elaborate on that. Maintenance of and repairs to buses are being carried out. There are certain problems with regard to the Van Hool buses. They are breaking up. They use an all-welded structure. People had certain doubts regarding the use of an all-welded structure. The same thing happened in the building of liberty ships or welded ships, as against the rivetting of ships, but that is a technical problem. CIE are still carrying out maintenance and repairs. But when bus building and maintenance were integrated the parts used were far more easily obtainable. The difficulty now is that there are two separate operations. Mr. Cullen might tell the Committee the difficulty about engine parts and so on that is beginning to arise. What I am saying, in regard to the rail section, is that it could have been developed a lot more in the past and there is no reason why it should not be developed now.

Deputy B. Desmond.—I am a bit worried about the way our discussion is going since we have had the three distinct aspects of rail operatives, road passenger and road freight. I am just wondering at this stage should we perhaps concentrate on the aspects of, say, rail operatives, then go on to road passenger, conclude with road freight and then deal with the overall question of the maintenance issues and the construction programme of CIE. Admittedly, a number of them are interlinked. Perhaps we could take them in some sequence. The introductory comments have been extremely interesting, particularly on the industrial relations side. Otherwise, I could find myself hopping around all over the place. Perhaps we could start with the rail operative side and try to sum-up.

Chairman.—We have really dealt with three different aspects. We have dealt with the railways, with the buses, and with the question of manufacturing, maintenance, repairs and so on. Half of the discussion was on industrial relations and half on other aspects.

Deputy O’Donnell.—I should like a more in-depth discussion on the whole picture of industrial relations in CIE because the impression given is that the situation is not good overall, that there is conflict between management and workers. It is important that we try to establish as clearly as possible what precisely is the state of industrial relations in CIE before going on to the mechanical aspects—the question of bus building, type of bus and so on.

284. Chairman.—Could we ask about one aspect that has come through, that is, the relatively high number of unofficial strikes as compared with ones which are approved by the unions?

Mr. Brogan.—I am sorry if I appear to be monopolising the discussion but perhaps I could contribute here. I am about seven months in this job. There are certain aspects which have occurred to me. I know Mr. Kirwan will have a lot to add about it. First, unofficial strikes are due probably to communications difficulties. As Mr. Cox mentioned, there is a very large number of employees and a great number of unions; there are 25 unions. It is not easy to communicate with their members all over the country. The second aspect is the length of time it takes to deal with claims. Unfortunately, when people read in the newspapers that somebody doing the same job as them—take electricians down town for example—got a rise of £5 or £6, CIE electricians do not see any reason why they should not get the same the following week. That is not the way it works in CIE. First, one must bear in mind the size of the operation and the system that has to be gone through. Then there is the question of submissions to the Labour Court and there, at present, one’s claim can take five months to be heard. The Labour Court is so chock-a-block with work I do not see any simple answer, except perhaps expanding the Labour Court. The other difficulty we are at present encountering is in relation to the Department of the Public Service. Unfortunately, in regard to that Department, it now appears that any time an increase is sanctioned it must go to them —that increases delay.

Mr. Kirwan.—I was intrigued by your reference to the number of unofficial strikes in CIE. There are not that many unofficial strikes in CIE. As somebody who has been involved in it for a quarter of a century, its relevance somewhat escapes me. Those that attract all of the publicity are official disputes. They attract this publicity because of their long, bitter duration. For example, while the last strike was relatively short—one week—it was an official dispute on the buses. Immediately prior to that we had a strike which went on for 11 weeks, which was over a minor matter, the rostering of busmen, but they were official.

In an industry employing 18,000 people, with a maximum geographic spread in terms of doing the job—and management deserve to be complimented from time to time because we are not a bunch of saints on this side either and every now and then we will have to stand up and be counted and show the tails of our shirts—the difficulty, whether one takes the rail operatives and talks about them, the road freight, the shops or the busmen, and talks about them, is that it is like the supermarket; it does not make money unless it has stock. To have stock it has to have the money to buy it. Everything comes right back to the question of subvention. Mr. Brogan did not tell the Committee, for instance, that one of the reasons we have to go to the Labour Court is because CIE, as a management, cannot get the money to meet the claims unless they can produce an official imprimatur; in this case it is the Labour Court. Then, if they go to the Department of the Public Service, with the harp on top of the correspondence, and say that somebody in the Labour Court has recommended this, they can pay it. This is a Committee on State-Sponsored Bodies. The State has sponsored them. I deal with almost all of them. The ESB have a virtual monopoly; nobody hears about their balance sheet; nobody talks about what is required to maintain their structures, both fiscal and operational; nobody is required to talk about the operative staff, although there are a lot more unofficial strikes there than in CIE. For example, nobody talks about Aer Lingus who, from time to time— despite the £1 million that Mr. Brogan talked about—get the State to underwrite their capital expenditure programmes and have them written off. I accept that CIE have had moneys written off. Nobody talks about RTE who derive a certain amount of money from their advertising and licensing. Everybody is talking about CIE. The reason is that they believe, as you did, Mr. Chairman, there was a plethora of unofficial disputes. Of course, industrial relations are bad, could not but be bad when you have a wage rate one-third less than a private soldier in the Army who—with all due respect to them—up to five years ago were regarded as having the lowest wage rates in the community.

285.—Deputy O’Donnell.—Perhaps we could clarify the air in relation to this. Mr. Kirwan said that, of course, industrial relations are bad in CIE because of low wage rates. Actually their record is quite good. I have a summary* which shows that in regard to official strikes in CIE, in 1975 there was none; in 1976 there was one— four days, Ringsend Garage busmen; 1977 none; and in 1978 one—three days, Galway busmen. Taking the overall complex nature of the whole operation of CIE and the total number of employees, that is good. On the other hand, if one examines the question of unofficial strikes—mainly in relation to the Dublin city bus services— one finds a whole series. For example, in 1975 there was an unofficial strike for the June public holiday—one hour’s loss of service from Ringsend Garage when a driver objected to the agreed method of allocating public holiday duties. The matter was resolved by union representatives confirming that the agreed procedures had been implemented. Operator staff refused to take out buses which were alleged to be defective from Conyngham Road garage, when there was a delay of two hours in resuming full service. I have a whole list of these. The point I want to make is that, in the Ringsend case for example, the driver obviously did not understand what were the terms of the agreed procedure when, in good faith but under a misapprehension, he caused a stoppage for one hour. There was a whole series of small incidents like that one over a number of years.

I should like to ask the union representatives present if they could identify any common trend running through these strikes. Is it bad communications between management and staff, or is it bad briefing of the workers by the unions? Could we get some assessment of this?

Mr. Kirwan.—We live in an age of clichés. One time it used to be said that there was too much money following too many goods, that there was the need for joint consultation. I am running out of these cliches. But, human beings being what they are—and I say this with all due respect to the learned veterinary person present—the only thing that distinguishes them from a cabbage is that a cabbage lives, breathes, drinks, requires water, air and so on, but man rationalises; and this should be evident, because it happens in Dáil Éireann from time to time, man rationalises himself into error. He is quite convinced that it is the right thing to do. There is nothing to stop the Deputy from taking strychnine and dropping dead outside; well, if he does not drop dead, the police will charge him. One can do these things. I am not excusing the one-hour stoppage at Ringsend. But, as a trade union official of some note and experience, I would be happy if all my disputes were of one hour and two hours duration. That is a tribute to people like Mr. Cullen who go out at 6 o’clock in the morning and say to such men: “You are wrong, and the procedures should have been followed.” The only reason the Deputy is aware of these disputes—I am not saying the Deputy has information from a source not available to other people—and the only reason the public get this information is because it has to do with buses. If somebody in the Varian brush factory stops work I can guarantee that one would not even find a record of it in Trinity College amongst the behavioural scientists. Nobody cares about them there. It is only because public attention is focussed on the transport industry——

286. Deputy O’Donnell.—Is that a matter of communication?

Mr. Kirwan.—Yes. We have a plethora of communication in CIE. We have a top consultative group which meets four times annually with the top executives of the company. Most of us sat on it. We have joint consultation at the local and intermediate level, a very complex industrial relations procedure setting out all the avenues which we should pursue but, with the best will in the world, these will go astray from time to time. Frank Cousins once said that an unofficial strike was a strike which could have reasonably been termed as official if it were not for the time element involved. I have often had to make official strikes which began as unofficial disputes because common justice demanded that I do that. The problem in CIE—I want to be fair to management although I have spent my lifetime attacking them; I have gone through more staff relations and chief staff relations offices in CIE than I have changed shirts—is that when we look for an increase, however minimal, for 3,000 busmen, it becomes a heavy charge on their budget. If Mr. Cox looks for an increase for railwaymen we are talking about its application to about 5,000 people. Mr. Casey, who deals with the executive and clerical staff, is in the same position. Everything about CIE is big except the subvention, despite what people may say.

We are talking about a subvention of £35 million to maintain a transport infrastructure within the State. Our view is that we are getting it cheap; but we are only getting it cheap because bad wages structures have helped it. It is a tribute to the unions—we are not always clean and we do stupid things—that we have been able to preserve the peace in CIE to a certain degree over the years with those types of wage rates. We can talk about dealing with the rail operatives as a mechanism, dealing with the clerical people as a mechanism and the bus people but, eventually, we will trail back to the catalyst for all of the problems. Once this is willed into existence we must, within reason, concomitantly will into existence the means to maintain it. That is not being done.

287. Deputy O’Donnell.—Quite a few stoppages have occurred over the years and, one might say, legitimately so, because the crew felt the buses were not fit to take out on the road. Can Mr. Kirwan say what causes that?

Mr. Kirwan.—I will give a purely subjective opinion on this. The Tavistock Institute on Human Relations examined the position of busmen. They seemed to think that the malaise among busmen in the mid-sixties was partly attributable to the fact that, at that time, the driver was on his own in an enclosed driving cab and the bus conductor was at the back of the bus. They said that, if there was more intercourse between these two, perhaps there would be less of the malaise and more of a happy understanding. They did not realise that while they were writing their report CIE actually had a plan on the table to introduce one-man operated buses.

288. Deputy O’Donnell.—The point I am making is that a defective vehicle should not be on the road.

Mr. Kirwan.—I am coming to that. This is a manifestation of irritation on the part of men who cannot get resolved an issue which invariably relates to money. They do not want to take the extreme step of going out on strike or serving strike notice on management and say: “we will use whatever action is available”. They take the Road Traffic Act which states that a vehicle must have certain items and decide that, until their vehicles have, they will not take them out. There is very little CIE can do in that context; they cannot sack a man for complying with the law. It is a technique that has been used.

289. Deputy O’Donnell.—Is there a shortage of maintenance and garage staff?

Mr. Drogan.—It is difficult to get maintenance staff. It is difficult to attract craftsmen because CIE are not paying a rate high enough at the entry point. The difficulty there is that CIE are afraid to pay it because they have to go to the Labour Court. The company are afraid to make offers on their own. I had a situation where £3 per week was due to craftsmen over a productivity deal which was signed in 1976 and that had to go to the Department of the Public Service. God knows how long it will take to sanction that but, in the meantime, irritation is building up in the company. The Department of the Public Service are adding to the time taken to reach a decision on such matters and that does not help industrial relations. There is also the difficulty of keeping staff because of the low starting rate.

The question of the broken indicators is the backlash to what I was talking about before. My understanding was that the Van Hool McArdle people produced about 200 or 300 buses and, had CIE continued building their own at the rate they were going in CIE, they would have produced 700 or 800 buses and provided a proper maintenance service. The chances of buses having greater maintenance problems are real but we cannot ignore the downright vandalism that is occurring today.

Mr. Cullen.—The Deputy should be made aware of some facts in this matter. Two productivity deals were entered into by CIE and the staff, one for the skilled and the other for the semi- and unskilled workers. Productivity as far as CIE was concerned meant reducing the staff. In the semi-skilled area we reached agreement on the basis that the company, in order to bring back the relativity between the semi-skilled and skilled people, would let 271 workers go. The sums were done by the unions and the company but the Government of the day stated that to give this relativity would not mean 271 people going but 500. The net result is that almost 400 workers have gone. Having to work within that constraint which the Government put on, it is not surprising that CIE are, at the moment, very badly staffed in the maintenance area. They are not able to catch up with the jobs they have and, if they were able to do so, they do not have the parts to do the work. As much as Leyland say that they can get material to Australia in two days, they cannot get material to Dublin in four weeks. We also have a lot of vandalism with people opening doors from the outside and breaking handles. We had a situation at Summerhill Garage three weeks ago where 26 buses were put out of service in one hour by people who were sitting on the roofs of Gardiner Street throwing ball-bearings with slings. They broke every window of the 26 buses in one hour.

290. Chairman.—Would the witnesses like to comment on the question of one-man buses because, on the face of it, it would appear that that system would be helpful from two points of view? On the one hand, it would give better pay to the drivers of the one-man buses and, on the other hand, it would mean a saving for CIE and help them with their problems in regard to the subvention. I am sure there is another side to the story but, on the face of it, it would seem to mean a saving.

Mr. Kirwan.—That is an extension of the philosophy which has brought us here in such a complaining mood. The rationalisation techniques introduced by CIE to meet the demands of the subvention have all resulted in dispossessing men of jobs. We have lost 1,100 jobs in the rail operative grades. We have lost 450, or one-third of the total staff, in the road haulage section; we have lost over 500 men in the crafts. How many people have been lost on the clerical side?

Mr. Casey.—More than 500.

Mr. Kirwan.—There has got to be an end to it. We cannot go through life explaining to our members that on the one hand our legislators are talking about job-creation and on the other hand within the area which they control they are talking about job losses and job reductions. I was intimately involved with the operation of buses, either on a one-man or two-man basis, since this one-man problem sprang up in 1963. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a positive and determined resistance on the part of bus workers to one-man operation. As recently as two weeks ago, in order to comply with the terms and provisions of a recently issued Labour Court recommendation. Mr. Cullen, one of my branch secretaries, took a general meeting and explained in detail what was required of the men. They then held a ballot on whether or not they would talk about one-man opeation of buses—not on whether they would agree to its introduction but on whether they would talk about the possibility of achieving a bargain. The decision, on a two to one basis, was under no circumstances would they talk.

We live in an age of instant communication, despite our hang-ups and preoccupations about lack of communication. It perhaps took The Sunday Times to tell us what was happening in Vietnam but now we get it about two or three hours after it happens. Our members no longer treat us in the same way as they treated that legendary and revered character whose statue has just been erected in O’Connell Street. We are no longer the smartest people around. They are all cuter than we are and they all have Readers Digest minds. They all know a little bit about space, astrology, medicine and cancer; and everyone of them is a trade union official. It is a curious phenomenon in our occupation— if I may call it such—that if people go to a doctor they pay handsomely for his advice and, unless they are lunatics, they will take it. Similarly, if they are embroiled with the law they will go to a solicitor and pay handsomely and again unless they are absolutely bonkers they will do what he tells them. But everybody is a trade union official. Everybody believes he has the panacea for industrial relations and in fact nobody has the panacea. Certainly, if there is a cure-all knocking around, we cannot sell to our members a need to reduce the level of employment in CIE in order to reduce the required subvention while at the same time the people, whoever they may be, who control the purse strings of CIE are talking about creating jobs artificially within the public sector. It is a contradiction in terms.

291. Chairman.—Then the objection is not to the actual way in which it would be done but is an objection in principle?

Mr. Kirwan.—I have surfaced with the conclusion that it is a socio-economic problem, whatever that means. I could not say with certainty what the opposition is, but it is there. I have given the Committee a number of factors that have been thrown at Mr. Cullen from time to time at the level of his executive committee and at general meetings. Our union—and I speak for my union—have had our vote and we will not even talk about one-man operation.

292. Deputy L. Lawlor.—Was there a commitment from CIE that there would not be a reduction in numbers allied to the implementation of one-man buses?

Mr. Kirwan.—To be perfectly honest— it is a simple matter for the Deputy to check the last set of proposals produced by the company—the company’s offer in respect of one-man operation could be construed as a “godfather’s” offer. To the best of their ability, they covered every problem that we raised. For example, they said that no man would be required to accept involuntary redundancy, and that no man would be required to transfer from his job or his route. In fact, they came up with the administratively hare-brained notion that one could even have a double-deck bus operated by two men on the same route as a single-deck bus operated by one man. They went that far to encourage people to accept one-man operated buses. Despite this there is a deep-rooted objection to the principle and the philosophy. A curious feature about it is that the latest evidence available to us is that where it is operating it is not providing the service that the community expected.

293. Deputy L. Lawlor.—Is this in another European city?

Mr. Kirwan.—Yes. We went to those cities, looked at the operation with them and we are in contact with them.

294. Chairman.—Our information is that it is working well in several cities.

Mr. Kirwan.—I feel like the man who felt like God—he knew everything. When I take my children to school I come in behind the No. 17 bus which wanders all over the place on a one-man basis and, eventually, arrives at the Kimmage road just as I am trying to make my way into Liberty Hall. If I get behind that one-man operated bus it takes me 25 minutes to travel 600 yards because the man has to collect the money as the passengers board it. In fact, it got so bad I had to use my influence to get them to move the bus stop. There is no doubt in my mind that in Manchester, London, Lille and Brussels— they even have one-man operated buses in Moscow, but then they have not got enough people to do what is required in the State anyway—generally the services are bad.

Mr. Cullen.—There is no trade union official worth his salt would even speak productivity-wise if the number one criterion was not that there would be no loss of jobs—no forced redundancy. There is always voluntary retirement but no trade union representative would sit down to talk to any company if there would be a loss of jobs as such. The Chairman of the Committee said that his information is that it is working in other cities. Of course it is; it is working in Lille and Brussels but working on single-deck routes. The exception is Stockholm. In busy periods they bring out 81-seater one-man double-deck buses. However, there are little things that go with that. For instance, they have the roads, traffic is diverted from the centre of the city and bus lanes. The fear arises in the hearts of busmen when they look at the jungle that we have in Dublin, 18th and 19th century streets for 20th century traffic. Are we going to put one man working a double-deck bus when we had one man killed during an attack on a bus. There was a conductor with that man at the time. We also have one-man single-deck buses working in CIE and CIE say that it will give cheaper fares. In fact on some of those single-deck buses the fares are dearer than on the double-deck buses. The other point was that CIE made a “godfather” type of offer to busmen to get into talks on one-man operation. In my opinion they went overboard, so much so that busmen felt this was a fairy tale. I do not wish to bore the Committee with some of the points expressed by ordinary busmen about the CIE proposal. Regarding one-man operated buses in the Dublin city service my people have told me that they are not prepared to allow me negotiate one-man double-deck buses at this time. That is the score on the one-man operating bus service.

295. Chairman.—It is a matter of principle; not a matter of the terms or anything else that would be offered?

Mr. Cullen.—I would say at the moment it is a matter of principle. We must also consider the terms and conditions. We must not forget the conditions under which those people work. We have a situation where men were going to be asked whether they would like to work one-man double-deck or two-man double-deck on a route. From my experience on my former route we would have the complete Dalkey service sitting at Ballsbridge at any one time if we had that situation. When that type of offer comes up people sit back and ask: “Who are these cuckoo men”?

Mr. Kirwan.—It can be taken then that it is not quite principle that suggests an inflexible position. Perhaps next month or next year, things will change.

Chairman.—I do not object to anybody being inflexible on principle.

Mr. Kirwan.—Yes. It reduces your mobility and that is an essential part of our game. I do not want to be too hidebound. Something could happen in six months or a year which could change the whole approach. But as of now, as Mr. Cullen says, the mandate is that they will not wear or talk about one-man operated buses.

296. Chairman.—Is anybody else concerned with one-man buses?

Mr. Casey.—I do not know what the committee’s terms of reference are. Initially you referred to industrial relations but it has spread to the nitty gritty of various aspects of the company’s operations in so far as staffing is concerned. I cater for the clerical, executive and allied grades. A lot of our discussion is centred around Dublin and the problems in Dublin specifically. But our attitude to CIE is that it is a national transport company and the future of the company and its development is just as important to the people in Waterford, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Athlone and so on. We always try to get our thinking in perspective along those lines.

When you are talking about industrial relations, my view—and I think it would be the view of our members—is that 70 to 80 per cent of the industrial relations problems in CIE, if I could put it that way, originate in Dublin and the Dublin area simply and solely because the greater portion of the staff is located in Dublin, the ratio being 70:30. It is also true to say that CIE, about 18 months ago, introduced a devolution policy in so far as personnel functions were concerned; in other words, devolved to the various area managements responsibility for negotiating with the trade unions on the ground, at local level, in all matters relating to the interpretation of conditions of service, but with the exception of negotiation of wages and salaries and any actual changes in the conditions of service. By and large it will be found that this has worked reasonably well. Probably the number of stoppages or disputes has been reduced as a result of that policy, although the same criterion applies—to which Mr. Kirwan referred—about the settlement of disputes; it has meant a devolution of the industrial relations machinery like the Labour Court and the Rights Commissioners to these areas.

Reference was made to management in CIE. I would have to defend my own members because I wear two hats here; we have about 95 per cent of the management in membership. I do not want to elaborate too much but the problem revolves a lot around what Mr. Kirwan, Mr. Cullen and Mr. Cox have said. In 1974 the company approached all the unions and said: “Look, we are under the hammer from the Government; there is a proposed rail development plan and various productivity proposals affecting all grades across the whole spectrum of CIE with the ultimate projection of a reduction of 2,500 to 3,000 jobs.” The white-collared grades at all levels in CIE was something of the order of 2,800 and has been reduced by over 500—a reduction of approximately 18 per cent. The management themselves have been suffering the most severe frustrations. First of all they have had to implement these productivity proposals through all the grades. As Mr. Kirwan has said, they have had also the frustration of having to deal with not only the public but the Department and the media at large in defence of their services. I shall not go into detail. But we the trade unions, because of the backlash we were getting from our members, were at the Department of Tourism and Transport on at least two occasions representing our views on Government policy on CIE. We were told quite clearly that there were two main elements. One was to modernise the railways and the second was to improve the suburban stock. That was eighteen months ago, when we pleaded with them, saying: “For God’s sake get your finger out about the rolling stock particularly on the suburban service.” I might mention one manager who shall be nameless who works something like 18 hours a day, who is attached to the suburban rail side of it. I commute daily and I have seen him on the platform at Connolly Station taking dog’s abuse, morning after morning, from commuters from Drogheda right in to Dublin because of the quality of the rolling stock on the train the previous evening. This is the position. Therefore, they are under pressure. By the same token, I feel they do not have sufficient input to board policy. Do the CIE board themselves determine policy? I do not think so. It is determined at a higher level, and this is what it is all about.

Another feature that has arisen since 1974—the staff has whittled down to something like 17,000 and, as the other representatives have told the Committee there are very serious shortages of staff on the skilled side, on all sides I would suggest and the reason is that the ban on recruitment has created interminable difficulties. While we had a contracting situation as a result of productivity agreements, the ban itself tipped the scales completely over. It left us with difficulties we have not been able to overcome, specifically in so far as my members are concerned because you have got a whole rake of temporary staff who have been employed in CIE now for some four or five years and the ramifications of the legislation do not allow them to be made permanent. That is something we are trying to sort out by ageement with the company and then go to the Minister. I could write a book on it but I do not want to delay the Committee too long.

With regard to the subvention, I think Mr. Kirwan put his finger on it: CIE have been the whipping boy of the media for years; every time the subvention is mentioned they get a lashing. It is like a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. There are a couple of features I should mention about Government policy and about the subvention. In 1975 and 1976 the company, under board policy, was forced to withdraw from the Irish Ferryways operation which was a particularly profitable one in so far as CIE was concerned and resulted in job losses of some 100 road freight staff and some 40 clerical staff. Board policy also determined that they withdraw from Aerlód Teoranta operations which were hived-off to a private operator, a man who was formerly in CIE. My understanding is that he is at present making a bomb on it. Therefore, there were viable segments of the company’s operations being hived-off. Our policy is that, if CIE is to be treated on a par with the ESB, with Aer Lingus, it should be given the same opportunity to diversify its various activities such as its travel trade, development of freight and so on. Talking about policy, I just want to make those points.

In so far as the negotiating procedures are concerned, I would go along with what is said. By and large we observe the normal machineries. Perhaps I might be permitted to cite an analogy. In the Civil and Public Service—take Local Government and many of the analogous employments under the umbrella of Government—quite a number of claims are settled at conciliation and arbitration level and paid. We have to go and get the imprimatur of the Labour Court or Rights Commissioner for the most “Mickey Mouse” claim—for disturbance allowance, or compensation for loss of earnings that may be covered by agreement and we must be specific. We are obliged to take CIE right through the whole gamut of negotiations. Surely there is room for improvement here? As far as I am concerned what is good for the goose is good for the gander if it is a question of CIE and the public sector. We should like to see an improvement in this area.

Mr. Brogan has been instrumental in having a submission made to the Minister for the implementation of the Worker Participation Act. We sincerely hope that when it is implemented the opportunity will present itself to institute below-the-board procedures. We do not have formal machinery as such. There is certain formal negotiating local machinery in the Dublin city services and some other sections, but not a centralised formal machinery. As far as my union is concerned we think this would certainly be a step forward if we can get agreement on it. We look forward to the introduction of the implementation of the Act in CIE.

It is probably true to say also that we have been very emotive—there is no doubt about that. That is probably because most of us, Mr. Cullen, Mr. Cox, Mr. Brogan and I, have spent most of our working lives in CIE. Mr. Brogan, Mr. Cullen and I are relatively new as trade union officials. I think I can speak for the other two and say that when we were in the job we had a total commitment to CIE as a public service. Mr. Cox put his finger on it when he said it was a tradition. That holds largely still. There is that commitment still. The staff do not want the service to falter and want to keep it on the road. Our commitment now is job-protection in CIE. That is the difference with the result that we are probably even more committed. We would be very anxious to see a policy that would embrace all the factors that have been mentioned but with special attention given to the protection of existing jobs and creation of additional jobs. There is potential in that regard particularly in view of the oil crisis and the developments that can arise from that in freight carrying and so on.

297. Deputy L. Lawlor.—What is the view of the witnesses on the recent Government decision to implement partially the rapid rail transport scheme? What impact will it have? I am sure everybody recognises that as a big investment by the State.

Mr. Casey.—It is two years too late.

Mr. Cox.—We welcome it with reservations. We welcome it because it is necessary but it will create redundancies also because all the signalmen employed from Bray to Skerries will no longer be required.

298. Deputy L. Lawlor.—How many are involved in that work?

Mr. Cox.—About 40 or 50 men.

Mr. Kirwan.—It is Hobson’s choice; if we do not get it, what we have will fall apart on us.

299. Deputy L. Lawlor.—It is a recognition and a reasonably substantial investment. One matter that has come to the fore in our discussions regarding CIE is the condition of the rolling stock. It was also mentioned by members of the board. The approval of the £43 million scheme is the first major decision and we are hopeful that it will be extended to other areas of County Dublin. What is the view of busmen regarding this scheme?

Mr. Cullen.—The busmen are glad that something is being done to keep CIE alive. It is coming a little late in the day. We have been looking for this for a long time. We are only concerned about getting more buses.

Mr. Kirwan.—It may take some traffic off the road and enable busmen to work in comfort.

Mr. Casey.—This group have been working in tandem for some years on this question. We were in touch with Dublin Corporation about two years ago on the question of bus lanes, whether the one-man bus comes in or not. With the situation in Dublin, great savings could be achieved if bus lanes were provided whether there are one-man or two-man operated buses. It would speed up bus access to the city centre.

Mr. Kirwan.—They are beginning to think along those lines but are too slow for us. Apparently, they have agreed on a contra-flow system in Parliament Street, but a great deal more needs to be done in that area. Broadly speaking, we welcome the development to refurbish the suburban lines because if they do not do it now, and hurry up with it, we will not have anything left.

300. Deputy B. Desmond.—I should like to ask the witnesses generally for their views as to what they consider should be the appropriate level of national subsidy to CIE. At present the railways are losing £31 million a year. The railways have been losing money annually—anything from £25 million to £30 million—and there does not seem to be any great prospect of reducing that deficit. Even if one has supertrains, prefabricates the whole track, brings in a complete new schedule and adds another two or three million passengers to the system, we are still talking about a hard deficit of £25 million to £30 million a year even with excellent industrial relations. If we build 100 new coaches at Inchicore— if the Government sanctions £X million for them—and if we electrify the suburban rail network in Dublin, from all the information we have it appears that there will still be a deficit from £25 million to £30 million. Is it the view of the witnesses that that social subsidy should continue to be paid and that it is very necessary to be paid in the context of a social service?

Mr. Kirwan.—I know that Deputy Desmond has trained as a trade union official because he has answered his own question.

301. Deputy B. Desmond.—I want to know the view of the witnesses on this because we have to prepare a report.

Mr. Kirwan.—It is a fact that if one accepts the social context of the railways one must, as a corollary, accept the cost of providing such a service. It is also a fact that there is not a railway system in the world that can operate without some degree of subvention.

302. Deputy B. Desmond.—I should like to come back to another point, are trade unionists as taxpayers, such as they are, prepared to pay for that kind of massive social subsidy?

Mr. Cox.—For years I have always concluded that the handiest way for CIE to bury losses, irrespective of where they occur, is under the heading of the railways. When CIE closed small stations and branch lines they were committed to provide the shopkeeper out in “Ballydehob” with his box of cigarettes which had to be delivered by road freight. That went down as a charge on the railways. The deficit shown against railways is not real. We have an understanding of what we think is going to happen in the context of our involvement in Europe, that certain aspects of CIE will be subvented and certain aspects will not. We are told that road freight operations will not be subvented. With due respects to everybody, particularly to railwaymen, it is about time that CIE broke down their overall expenses and showed the real losses on the railways and not the losses incurred by providing services they have no control over. When they closed branch lines any shopkeeper who traditionally collected his cigarettes at a particular station was guaranteed by CIE that they would give him a service and that service has to be provided by the road freight services.

303. Deputy L. Lawlor.—Do you feel that they write in road freight costs which do not have anything to do with railways?

Mr. Cox.—I am certain of that.

Mr. Kirwan.—There is a substantial degree of cross-subsidisation between the services.

304. Chairman.—We have been given figures for the different areas; road freight, the railways and the buses have been treated as separate.

Mr. Kirwan.—In the last analysis what is important is what emerges as the final figure to maintain the infrastructure of the transport system. On the broad philosophical question posed by Deputy Desmond as to whether the workers, as taxpayers, would accept the need to subvent this, of course they would, just as they accept the need to subvent every other part of the State apparatus from which they derive no material benefit. They recognise it as being part of the State infrastructure and pay for it.

305. Deputy B. Desmond.—Does Mr. Kirwan think that the Dublin city service could become profitable? That service is losing about £5 million a year at the moment. One-man buses can be written off if it is not acceptable to the unions but even if you double your travelling speed from seven miles an hour, the current rate, to say. 14 miles an hour, which would be——

Mr. Kirwan.—A 100 per cent improvement.

Deputy B. Desmond.—Even if you give average earnings increase to CIE road passenger staffs in Dublin and throughout the country, another £10 to £12 per week, to bring them above the low level on average, which would add extra cost and so on. do you see much prospect in terms of management efficiency and a new rolling stock for road passengers in Dublin? Do you see much prospect of it breaking even? It has been doing very well with all the disabilities. But do you see it breaking even?

Mr. Cullen.—It did years ago when the wages of a busman were a half a crown below or above those of a garda; I am not sure which. At that time CIE were contemplating bringing the fares down on the Dublin City service, because they produced a service. They did that; they produced a service; they showed a profit of something in the region of a half a million pounds a year on the Dublin bus service. What happened then was the different chains of management—which as Mr. Kirwan said —were forced on them, when they had to do this, that or the other—

Mr. Kirwan.—I do not want to labour this management aspect too much. What happened to the Dublin City service is that there has been a burgeoning of the urban population. This city has spread—I cannot quantify this in precise figures—but I would hazard a guess and say that it has increased by almost 100 per cent in terms of its radius. If you are asking us in simple terms: is there any possibility of the Dublin city service breaking even—and this is my judgment—I do not see it happening for a variety of reasons. If you demand that they provide the uneconomic service to the housing estates now dotting the perimeter of our city, then you cannot expect them to break even. The private operators such as PAMBO. will tell you: we will do better than CIE; of course they will, on the routes that are lucrative. But they will not accept the social content of providing a public service. Added to the loss-making capacity of the Dublin city services there are a number of imponderables over which neither management nor we have any control—for example, the price of fuel, the difficulties of providing rolling stock. Despite what our colleagues may say—and this may answer Senator Keating’s question—it is extremely difficult to envisage a situation in which CIE can become bus builders for their domestic needs. It is the type of operation that needs an outlet other than their domestic needs to become profitable. These are all factors which have contributed, in the normal inflationary way. to the change from a profit-making situation—I think the last profit-making situation was £600,000—to a loss which has been estimated now at somewhere in the region of £7 million.

306. Deputy O’Donnell.—Is it not a fact of life—getting down to the realities of this whole situation—that with the present chaotic traffic situation in Dublin increasing daily no management or no union in the world, even with the best co-operation in the world, could conduct a viable operation in Dublin? Is not that the basis of the whole thing?

Mr. Kirwan.—I have not met one. And it has not been brought to my attention that any of the municipalities in England made a profit. In fact, that was one of the reasons they confederated into a national agency. There will always be this difficulty. If one must recognise the social needs then the commercial and market criteria cannot be accepted. This is where we are in difficulties because the critical reference in the 1950 Act, which established CIE as an integrated internal transport system, says that, taking one year with the other, you must break even. With all due respect to the architects at that time, it may have been sound policy then but it is “Disneyland” in the year 1979. It cannot be done.

Mr. Casey.—The question asked is rhetorical in the first instance. We are again talking about the Dublin city bus services. Apart from the population explosion, it is true to say that the use of the private car in Dublin has developed rapidly in the last ten or 15 years—a novelty type of situation—but the whole ball game has changed. The three factors are the poor service, the availability of cars at a reasonably low cost, and perhaps sharing a car is the third one. If a decent service is being provided at the right cost, the ordinary man in the street will buy it. That is common logic. I do not think that we accept that, in so far as the subvention is concerned—and the way the Government handle or deal with CIE’s policy and its future development— a price rise of 20 per cent is going to do anything in its own right to paint a bright picture as far as the Dublin city services are concerned. On the national side—the railways were mentioned—it is a fact, and I am sure you have recorded figures, that there has been a tremendous upward surge in revenue and passengers travelling on CIE. Quite a lot of that is traffic made up of younger people who have become orientated to rail travel. There is absolutely no doubt about it; one only has to travel any day of the week and particularly at the week-ends to see this pattern. They constitute a whole catchment of potential supporters of rail travel for the future. I think we will keep them, firstly, because of the cost of cars but more particularly because of the oil crisis and—a fact that has not been mentioned—we do not have one mile of motorway in this country. What does a mile of motorway cost? Let us be realistic about this. There is a future in the maintenance of what is there and the improvement of it but it has got to be a nettle grasped. It cannot be done on a willy-nilly basis from year to year, as Mr. Kirwan has said. It has got to be a long-term policy embracing all the necessary factors to make it as viable as possible, having regard to all the circumstances obtaining.

307. Deputy B. Desmond.—I think the other aspect I wanted particularly to tease out was the view given to us today in regard to the 3,200 men. You were talking about a turnover of 800.

Mr. Cullen.—That was in 1976/77.

308. Deputy B. Desmond.—Is it as high as that now?

Mr. Cullen.—It may not be as high but at present it is fairly high. CIE take in some staff—I think somebody mentioned the ban on recruitment in 1976—well that ended up with a situation in which we had busmen earning so much money that the money they were paying back to the taxman was above their basic rate. This was just to keep the service going; this was the overtime situation. Then we got to the management and there was a recruitment of 100 for a year, and it has developed since that. I do not know whether it is Government policy or what but at present there are 43 men at the school training to become conductors for the Dublin city services. I am told by the company that quite a number of men are coming in and moving out. I do not know what would be the score now.

309. Deputy B. Desmond.—Why would there be—apart from the wages element— this turnover? Unsocial hours of work or what?

Mr. Cullen.—Unsocial hours.

310. Deputy B. Desmond.—And the job itself, has not any—

Mr. Cullen.—Yes, the job itself.

311. Deputy B. Desmond.—Is it analogous to postmen in that context?

Mr. Cullen.—It would be in that context. There are what are known as career busmen—we have a lot of those—it is their career. But quite a few of the younger crowd coming in will not work late over week-ends; they will not work shifts; they will not work seven days in the one week. This is the deal that we have done, the manner in which we are working in the 5.4 working week, which means that every fifth week a busman works seven late cars. The younger men just will not do that.

312. Deputy B. Desmond.—CIE have said to us that a rationalisation of the fare structure, say, a three-stage fare structure, pre-purchase of tickets and all the other paraphernalia would help enormously. Do you think this would be a very big help in revenue factors in Dublin?

Mr. Cullen.—I think they would be talking in the context of one-man buses.

313. Deputy B. Desmond.—Was it very much in the context of one-man buses?

Mr. Kirwan.—Totally. They are the essential ingredients of the operation of one-man buses. It would be a failure without that type of operation.

314. Deputy Lawlor.—The wages that you have stated are low. Do the men at any time—even though they do not want any discussion on the one-man buses—recognise that that is probably the way that they will get a substantial increase? Or do you believe they would get a substantial increase if that policy were to be implemented?

Mr. Cullen.—If one-man operation was to be implemented?

Deputy Lawlor.—Yes.

Mr. Cullen.—Basically, the company’s last offer was 27½ per cent to a driver to drive a one-man operated bus. I think somebody said somewhere that this is probably the greatest productivity deal that has hit, not alone CIE, but the country at large, because effectively it would reduce the staff on the buses by half.

315. Deputy B. Desmond.—CIE have represented to us that one of the other unions, the NBU, have said that for them it would be a matter of negotiation and discussion whereas, on your part, it would not be. Have you any comment on that to enlighten us as to what the internal situation is?

Mr. Kirwan.—I did not think I would have to teach my grandmother to suck eggs.

Deputy B. Desmond.—We are anxious to get your comment on record.

Mr. Kirwan.—That union has the capacity to say on Monday something totally different to what it might say on Tuesday. If one searches the records one will find a host of contradictory statements. Talk means nothing. We are at least honest. We say we do not want to talk because we do not want one-man operated buses. I wish CIE luck with the other group.

Mr. Brogan.—On the question of subvention, while in London last year I saw a British Rail advertisement in one of the major railway stations indicating that English people pay £8 per head per annum to subvent their public transport system, which is comparable to what we pay in Ireland. In France they pay £20 and in Germany they pay £40 per head. If the Germans cannot do without a subvention— they are getting about four or five times more than we are—I cannot see a situation arising where we will not be looking for a subvention for the foreseeable future Or worker participation, there is an appeal from Congress before the Minister that he ought to bring in an order to implement the Act. We would like to see that come as quickly as possible.

316. Deputy B. Desmond.—Are the unions in favour of that?

Mr. Brogan.—Yes.

317. Deputy B. Desmond.—Will there be a ballot of all trade union members or will it be confined to some? What is your view generally on it?

Mr. Kirwan.—It would require to be a ballot of all CIE workers. We did try to constitutionalise it but there were too many difficulties involved. We tried to get one representative for rail operatives, one for road freight, one for buses, one for shops, but we always found we had a group left out.

318. Deputy B. Desmond.—How many would you envisage on the board?

Mr. Kirwan.—We do not have much choice; that is settled by statute.

Mr. Brogan.—Congress are pushing for five.

Mr. Kirwan.—We would hope to see representatives of a cross-section of the industry on the board.

Mr. Cullen.—We are seeking five seats but the Government have said four. If it was agreed to appoint five we could look after busmen, railwaymen, road freight men, skilled men and clerical workers. That would cover all grades.

319. Deputy B. Desmond.—Are you hopeful that you might get that?

Mr. Kirwan.—I do not think we are going to; we will probably get four.

Mr. Brogan.—The Minister to some degree appears to be sympathetic but, unfortunately, we understand that the CIE board took a decision that there should be four. I am a bit baffled how CIE can take a decision like that. My understanding was that worker-participation was brought in on behalf of the workers. Nevertheless, we are going to make representations to CIE— hopefully we will have a meeting some time in the near future—to ask that the board show acquiescence with the concept of a five man representation. Whether the Minister will ultimately take this into account and make it a 15-man board is another question.

Mr. Kirwan.—If they extended the worker representation to five it would make the election process a great deal easier.

320. Chairman.—Would it be arranged in such a way that there would be one representative from each area?

Mr. Kirwan.—The original proposition from the company which found favour with us was that we could constitutionalise it in that way. We then found that two distinct groups were being merged together and this did not suit us. We had to abandon this and go for an open situation. If we got the five—I can see great difficulties here because four have been established for the B & I, Bord na Móna and the ESB—it would certainly ease the mechanisms for determining who the representatives would be and we would end up then with a railway man, a bus man, a road freight man, a shop man and a clerical representative.

Mr. Cullen.—Each section would elect its own.

Mr. Kirwan.—I should like to give the Committee an idea of the range of difficulties we have, again against the backdrop of this subvention. CIE operate a pension scheme—the CIE wages grade superannuation scheme—which is a euphemism for the unskilled workers scheme. Under it a man who enters the job at 20 years of age must join it—it is obligatory. He can work until he is 54 years of age, in other words he can be 34 years in the job and, if after six months illness, he is not fit for work he is disemployed but does not get a pension; he gets a refund of his money. A man can enter the job at 44 years of age and at 65, with 21 years service as against the other man’s 34 years, he gets a full pension. After ten years’ service, once he reaches the age of 55, he can get a reduced pension. It is an anomaly that has baffled all my mental processes. I have not been able to grapple with the logic that produced it or maintains it as a situation. We are told that the Minister is looking at it and the latest we heard is that he is going to reduce it to ten years. This is part of the difficulties; this clinical, surgical approach to matters of deep and profound human relationships that creates difficulties in CIE.

A brave experiment was carried out ten or 12 years ago and, I must confess, under prompting from the trade unions, they regionalised their staff relations system. We have learned through bitter experience that where decisions are being made which are of overall application, the regional approach is not the one. There has to be a degree of centralised industrial relations because of the overall application of the agreement. This is something we intend to say to CIE. We do not want regional industrial relations wiped out; that has got to be there but where matters are of overall application there has to be somebody from our side and somebody from management who are capable of sitting down and interpreting the situation.

321. Deputy O’Donnell.—On the pensions, I am very interested in that and have been involved over the years in various anomalies that operated in CIE pension schemes. I understand that there are a number of other anomalies which are the subject of discussion at the moment also. I asked a question about some people in Limerick some time ago and I was informed that the Minister was about to make a decision on it. This has been a continuous source of complaint, and justifiably so, by various categories since I came into this House 18 years ago. It would he helpful if we had a submission on this aspect of it.

Mr. Kirwan.—I do not think the Committee need a submission. There is extant a commission’s report which came out in 1963 recommending that there should be a pension, taking into account social welfare benefits, which would produce two-thirds. They went further and said that the time element involved precluded them from making a recommendation on a much more substantial basis. They recommended that, with the minimum of delay, a percentage based pension scheme should be introduced in CIE. That was in 1963 and we still have a flat pension which we require to alter every time there is a wage adjustment. We will end up like the dodo bird; we will disappear into our own anatomy one of these days.

Mr. Brogan.—The Minister has a number of amendments before him which he has undertaken to deal with. They have been there for about two years. In the meantime we have set up a committee within the Congress of Trade Unions, comprised of members from all groups, which we hope will enter into negotiations for a comprehensive new pension scheme. We hope to eliminate all the anomalies. We are taking, as a criterion, or some form of a plan, something based roughly on the new pension scheme in the various health boards. Hopefully we will eliminate all the difficulties. If the trade unions negotiate with the company fairly rapidly in regard to the new pension scheme we hope that it will not lie on the Minister’s desk for another four or five years, because we will then have problems. In fact an incident occurred recently when engine drivers threatened a one-day stoppage because the pension scheme is so bad; it was over the situation, about which Mr. Kirwan spoke, in which a man who was 30 years in the job died at 54 years of age and his wife got no pension. Hopefully the Committee will recommend that, when the question of negotiating the new scheme arises, it will be rapidly processed and the necessary finance made available.

Chairman.—Thank you very much, gentlemen.

The witnesses withdrew.

*See Appendix 17.

*See Appendix 1.