Committee Reports::Report No. 04 - Córas Iompar Éireann::27 June, 1979::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Dé Céadaoin, 27 Meitheamh, 1979

Wednesday, 27 June, 1979

Members Present:

SENATOR EOIN RYAN in the chair


James N. Fitzsimons,


Patrick M. Cooney,

William Kenneally,

Des Hanafin,

Liam Lawlor,

Justin Keating.

Tom O’Donnell,




Mr. Michael Sweeney, President; Mr. Tom Darby, General Secretary; Mr. Peter Bunting, Member of Executive Committee; and Mr. P. J. Toomey, Member of Executive Committee of the National Busmen’s Union called and examined.

322. Chairman.—We have been examining the affairs of CIE for some weeks past and we heard witnesses from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions representing some of the unions that are involved in CIE. Perhaps Mr. Darby would give his views with regard to industrial relations in CIE as far as his union is concerned and also give any general views he might like to put to the Committee.

Mr. Darby.—With regard to industrial relations it would appear—and it has been proved—that in recent years the situation is getting worse instead of better. This is as a result of the elimination of the central management. Some years ago local management seemed to take over the local functions of operating and it appeared to us that there was competition between the various managers to see who was going to get his area operating in the best way possible. They would not mind entering industrial disputes to be able to prove their point over somebody else. This has created a good deal of parochial conflict; there have been various disputes in areas like Limerick and Waterford and this is a result of having no centralised management to deal with problems. In one area we may talk to the management, we may make progress with a particular problem and finalise the details; and in a very similar case in another area the management will say no. The members find it very difficult to understand this type of attitude. It has come about as a result of the devolved management system they have at present. With central management an agreement reached applies in all sections.

We have many problems in relation to the could-not-care-less attitude of management in relation to the provision of a fleet of buses for public transport. This was highlighted some weeks ago when a maintenance dispute took place. It did not take the maintenance dispute to bring it about; in fact, 50 per cent of the fleet was not roadworthy anyway. We have at this point in time members of our union and other unions driving buses which, if the Road Traffic Acts were enforced in any shape or form, would not be on the road. In order to preserve a type of service to the public, these buses are being used. Everybody knows the history of what happened between CIE and Van Hool. New buses should have been coming on the scene for the last two years. Because of the rate at which old buses were replaced it could be said that 200 double-deck buses in Dublin city are derelict. Yet they are on the streets. They should have been gone in the past two years. Yet conflict raged between the two companies and there was a lot of money handed over for the contract. The contract was ended and we have no buses. Negotiations are going on now as to who is going to build the buses—whether they will be built in Inchicore or in Shannon. While this is going on, buses are falling by the wayside; there is cannibalisation going on, stripping one for pieces for another. When we have a petrol crisis CIE are unable to carry the people who want to use public transport. As we see it, CIE should have been able, for the last few years, to provide at least a sufficient number of buses. I do not know of any other job where there are people offering money and there is nobody to take it. That is the position at the moment.

We have not had many disputes but when they arise they always make the headlines. We had a national dispute recently for five days; the last national dispute before that was back in 1971 for five days and the one before that was for 10 days in 1965. In the last 15 years we have had approximately 20 days lost in national disputes. We had many parochial disputes due to keen competition between managements.

There is no equipment available with regard to one-man operation of the present fleet of buses. We cannot have single-deckers. Yet, the company are talking about the one-man operation of double-deckers.

323. Chairman.—Why do you say that could not be done?

Mr. Darby.—Certain equipment is necessary to dress up a single-deck bus to operate with one man—in regard to machines, a line of mounting on which they can be mounted, and so on. What you have is people taking what they can get and leaving the last fellow fall foul. He has to hang around until somebody comes up with one or finds one for him. That is the present system. We shudder to think what would happen if the double-deck fleet which far outnumbers the single-deck fleet —by seven to one—was going to be one-man operated.

324. Chairman.—If the equipment were available would your union consider one-man buses?

Mr. Darby.—We went to our members and asked for a mandate to negotiate one-man operation of double-deck buses. This was not for the purpose of accepting it, either in principle or otherwise, but for the purpose of giving us a free hand to find out the background to it. We have that mandate and we have abided by it since. The problem arises with the other trade unions who have not got that mandate. We are prepared to discuss the matter at any time. We would want to know the pros and cons for all parties, the public, the company and ourselves.

325. Chairman.—But you have an open mind about it?

Mr. Darby.—Yes. At one time we produced a policy document setting out what we wanted in exchange for one-man operation. The company turned it down without much thought. Each item on that policy document has now been achieved and there is no one-man operation.

326. Senator Cooney.—You mentioned competition between areas and that this can lead to different working regimes in regard to conditions for your members in one area as opposed to another. Could you give an example of something sought in one area that would not be granted in another area?

Mr. Darby.—For instance, if a conductor meets with an accident at work—say he is upstairs and the driver has to brake suddenly to avoid an accident—the conductor can be injured so that he cannot continue at work. While off work he gets his social welfare entitlement and his sick pay from the company. There are losses apart from that—the extra money he could have earned. This is calculated on his earnings in the previous six weeks. This is a Dublin city service and we make a claim on his behalf. The company get the figures from the computer and make good the loss. In Cork the same thing happens. I produce a file containing a cross-section of all the accidents that happened and I despatch it to Cork to management who read through them. The instances are similar. Notwithstanding the fact that I have produced figures and shown them company correspondence that payment was made, they wrote to me last week that they were not going to pay. I cannot understand this.

327. Deputy O’Donnell.—You know they are not going to pay this?

Mr. Darby.—They will pay the sick pay but they will not pay the difference which is payable. Some time ago management and workers for some unknown reason decided to introduce a new system of working with regard to tickets. The idea was that the conductor would have to educate the people on self-service. This was a bit too much to take because my members knew if they allowed it to happen there it would happen everywhere else. There was opposition to it. There was a strike which lasted for three weeks. Part of the system was a multi-journey ticket for the public. We had no objection to that. We objected to the other aspect of it successfully and stopped it. It became known afterwards that this was being done in Waterford. It was the company’s intention, having won the day in Waterford, to attempt to put it into Cork. Limerick and Galway. This is the sort of a progression they had in mind. They picked out an area. A certain gentleman was going to try and force this issue in one area. If it was that important and they intended to introduce it in the other areas, why did they not pick it up in the other areas and say, “We are going to do it at the same time”. They set out one area as an example, even to the point of dispute.

328. Senator Cooney.—Would it be right to call it an experiment in one area? If it worked successfully there, they would expand it into other areas.

Mr. Darby.—It could be called an experiment, but they were well aware that the experiment was going to lead to industrial chaos.

329. Senator Cooney.—If it had been discussed in advance with the members would they have accepted it?

Mr. Darby.—I doubt very much that a member would operate a system designed to get rid of him.

330. Senator Cooney.—And that was the objective of it?

Mr. Darby.—That is correct. The idea was that the conductor would educate the public in the use of the machinery. When it became fully operational, the cancellor took over from the conductor.

331. Senator Cooney.—When you raised the question with the company of the threat to your members’ jobs, did you get any guarantee that the jobs would not be affected?

Mr. Darby.—They always maintained that there would be no such thing as redundancy. The conductor feels that his back is to the wall all the time. For instance, his potential earnings would disappear. He would end up on flat-rate. In that situation it would be better for him to get out of the job. Life would become uncomfortable for him.

332. Senator Cooney.—The guarantee that the company gave—that there would be no redundancies—does not really hold water?

Mr. Darby.—It does not. While the company has stated this in regard to all aspects of one-man operation, it approaches conductors and asks them if they would like to go out on retirement. These men, who are between 55 and 60, are baited with a lump sum of £5,000. The company does not go through the unions to do this. The men would be entitled to a reduced pension. The company has got men to leave the job for the purpose of one manising.

333. Senator Cooney.—If the men wanted to leave was there anything wrong with that?

Mr. Darby.—When the company says that there is no such thing as redundancy it is not correct. They have asked men to become redundant. They are buying them out.

334. Senator Cooney.—If a man is agreeable, is there anything wrong in that?

Mr. Darby.—Not in principle, but the situation would affect somebody else. For every six men in the job, it takes one man to cover for various things such as sickness and leave. When a man goes, he creates an uncomfortable situation for those left behind.

335. Senator Cooney.—I gather from what you say your attitude to one-man buses is hostile?

Mr. Darby.—We are talking about an agreement. When I talk about that type of one-man operation I am talking about an agreement that was entered into in 1962 when one-man operation came in by default. The busmen did not want it but they were not prepared to go on strike to stop it.

336. Senator Cooney.—The experiment proposed in Waterford was considered to be the thin end of the wedge. The experiment failed because you proposed to recommend industrial action. Were you agreeable to an experiment in one-man buses in Dublin?

Mr. Darby.—No. We were agreeable to sit down and negotiate.

337. Senator Cooney.—Did that happen in Waterford?

Mr. Darby.—What happened in Waterford was that, whereas the company put forward proposals for further rationalisation of the single-deck operation where options would be given to men to retire, the management in Waterford decided to hare off on their own and introduce the part that was going to suit them, whatever it meant.

338. Deputy O’Donnell.—Are you saying that your union have an open mind on one-man buses, that you were prepared to sit down and discuss the feasibility of the introduction of one-man buses?

Mr. Darby.—The company should have put all these points forward in relation to Waterford at the talks which were going on at the time, but they did not do that.

339. Senator Cooney.—Could you see some hope of success for the company in achieving one-man buses if there was a total discussion of all the implications arising out of one-man operations covering both the existing single-deckers and the double-deckers?

Mr. Darby.—I believe it will come. It all has to be put on the table and all aspects have to be discussed. I distrust some of the people with whom we discussed the one-man double-deck bus. Their knowledge of the job is not sufficient to be able to put all things on the table. Here, again, it comes back to local management. It is a matter for centralised management where they have the experience to deal with these matters.

340. Chairman.—Do you mean that as they envisage it at the moment it would not work?

Mr. Darby.—The problem is that we have some whizz kids in the job whose only thought is one-man operation. If it is introduced they will make their names. The human element comes into it and the effect it has on people between the age of 50 and 65 years. It is very difficult to get that across to people who are not too long in the employment of CIE.

341. Senator Cooney.—I gather that the other unions are so opposed to one-man buses that they do not even see any point in discussing it. Do you have any contact, formal or informal with the other unions on mutual problems?

Mr. Darby.—Not too often. For instance, if we lodge a claim of some kind—it might be just a minor one of some kind—and the company calls a meeting, both parties are called, everyone goes in and says his piece.

342. Senator Cooney.—It is only in the situation where the company would call in the other union that you would come together?

Mr. Darby.—They are part of what is classed as the road passenger trade union movement. They are obliged to meet among themselves. I do not know if they do. We, not being part of that group, go our own way. We make our own policy. We stick to our agreements.

343. Senator Cooney.—The unions carry on totally separately?

Mr. Darby.—There have been times when we——

Senator Cooney.—Except in so far as the company brings you in?

Mr. Darby.—We can give an example when we did not. We lived to regret it. In 1974 jointly the unions served a claim for a five-day week for busmen in Dublin. Most other workers had a five-day week, so we could see no reason why busmen could not have it. But the type of schedules thrown up were not very good. At the same time we were prepared to give them a try to see if they could be improved on at a later stage. It was all done jointly. The claim was lodged jointly. Each letter was signed by the secretary of the trade union group and myself; negotiations jointly and the ballot jointly—only one ballot. Nobody knew which union went which way. By a majority of 600 in Dublin city—1,600 to 1,000—the busmen voted for this type of system. It came into operation on 5 May 1974. But the other unions came along and under pressure from a minority or majority of their members—I do not know—placed pickets to stop this coming in, notwithstanding the fact that written down there was a list of signatures which authenticated the result of the ballot vote, which was also communicated to the company. We had a ten weeks bitter strike in Dublin city services as a result. We stuck by the majority vote. Everybody was saying to us: you should go back to work a six-day week. We had even politicians telling us to go back and work a six-day week. The very fine fabric of democracy was being walked on. You have a ballot vote that says: “That is what came out of the ballot vote”. I even had to remind some politicians that they themselves had come out of the ballot box and they would not feel too kindly if somebody said: “You did come out a majority but we suggest you go back and have a go at that ballot vote again”. We suffered as a result of that. That is where we went along jointly.

344. Deputy O’Donnell.—The NBU deal exclusively with bus crews and no other category. What percentage of the bus crews have you in your union?

Mr. Darby.—At the moment we have something in excess of 50 per cent.

345. Deputy O’Donnell.—Is that in Dublin or is it countrywide?

Mr. Darby.—Countrywide, 26 counties.

346. Deputy O’Donnell.—What percentage would you have in Dublin?

Mr. Darby.—A little in excess of 50 per cent in Dublin. Provincial areas are stronger NBU.

347. Deputy Kenneally.—To come back to the one-man bus operation again, are you satisfied that the double-decker is suitable for this type of operation? Has that been discussed?

Mr. Darby.—It has not been dscussed because we just did not get that far.

348. Deputy Kenneally.—Do you think the double-decker is suitable for one-man operation in Dublin?

Mr. Darby.—The way Dublin is at the moment—I think people must face facts— it is not able to take the double-deckers. You have double parking; you have parking at bus stops. It is impossible to get through the city at the moment. The driver on his own will have no chance. He will get through the city all right but instead of three journeys which is normally done, he will do one. There is no movement through the city.

349. Deputy O’Donnell.—You mentioned earlier on about the fact that the industrial relations area in CIE is reasonably good. We accept that as far as official disputes are concerned. Recently there has been a considerable number of unofficial stoppages. Have you any comment to make on that?

Mr. Darby.—No. As a matter of fact to be fair, I have seen unofficial stoppages take place which were totally justified. We do have official stoppages and a lot of people tell us that they are unjustified. From the way we look at it from the inside there have been unofficial stoppages which were justified because you have a management who will take on something that is not justified either. You cannot say we are going to give a week’s notice because what they intend to do is going to be done at a certain point in time. To wait a week would be a waste because it would already be in operation then. That is where these things happen. Now CIE have the happy knack too of treating some stoppages as unofficial when in fact they are official.

350. Deputy Kenneally.—The point I am trying to get at is the work to rule or some other form of action, if the windscreen wiper of a bus is not working.

Mr. Darby.—Well, there is a Road Traffic Act which states that the bus should not go out of the depot in the first place, which means in actual fact that defective buses are going out. The company call them just minor defects. We have never had a dispute over minor defects—they were all front line defects such as brake lights. We have had many members of our union prosecuted for having no brake lights on the buses out on the road. If my members examine buses in the morning to see whether the brake lights are there, the company accuse us of being in dispute. But the road traffic laws are there and as long as you keep within the terms of the law that dispute does not exist.

351. Deputy O’Donnell.—This has come up in previous discussions here, lack of maintenance and so forth. I am aware of this happening in Limerick on various occasions where indicators were not working and drivers refused to take out the vehicles—rightly I would say. You mentioned earlier that 50 per cent of the fleet was not roadworthy. Would you like to elaborate on that because it seems to me to be a very serious situation?

Mr. Darby.—These buses were due for replacement one way or the other and because of the two year lapse, because of the breakdown between CIE and Van Hool, they have not been replaced.

352. Deputy O’Donnell.—Replacement vehicles were not coming along in the normal way?

Mr. Darby.—CIE have not seen a new bus for over two years.

Mr. Bunting.—One of the reasons is the big freeze which immobilised say 25 per cent of the buses in each depot. That would necessitate big jobs. Before they could be done we ran into the maintenance dispute. Ninety per cent of the buses in the city are in breach of road traffic laws. I can guarantee you that if you ring any garage tomorrow you will find that 90 per cent of the buses are in breach of the law. In our garage we still have not got sufficient buses to put on the bus services which are scheduled every day. On Monday mornings we could be 20 or 30 buses short of the number necessary to run the public service. Midweek it drops to 14 or 15. I believe there were 11 off yesterday morning, something to do with accidents. There are insufficient buses.

353. Senator Cooney.—Is that the same in every garage?

Mr. Darby.—It is the same in every garage in the country because the same defects are being found right down the line. It is worse in provincial areas because single-decks have not been replaced for a long number of years. The last buses to come off the line were double-decks. The single-deck situation is diabolical inasmuch as there are people contacting the company day in, day out looking for buses for private hire and they have to tell them: “Sorry, no bus”.

Mr. Bunting.—We even had a case where a group of people I know who sought private hire booking with CIE were referred elsewhere. CIE could not provide the bus. Revenue on a large scale is going begging to private operators which should be going to CIE. The new buses are not the same as the old ones.

354. Chairman.—Are the most recent buses Van Hool ones? That would be going back about six years.

Mr. Darby.—Yes.

355. Deputy Kenneally.—In regard to replacement buses, is there a breakdown in communication between CIE and the Van Hool organisation?

Mr. Darby.—There has been opposition from the men in the Inchicore area, which is understandable. The whole department is there; the skill is there and the personnel. They were not able to set up the right equipment. This is why it is taking up time. Buses could have been built a long time ago.

356. Deputy O’Donnell.—Have the NBU definite views on this problem?

Mr. Darby.—Our view is that the expertise is there in Inchicore. Apart from that, when they built the buses in the past it was very good practice. They had a long life and that is the main thing. The buses they have got in recent years will not last half the time. In fact quite a few of them went on fire, which is a very serious matter.

Mr. Sweeney.—I should like to make a few points on the maintenance of buses. When the new Van Hool buses originally came in all drivers had to get a few hours training on them. The old buses had ordinary manual steering. The new ones had power assisted steering and various types of warning lights and information lights on the panel in front of the driver. One of the main instructions we got at the time was that the new buses had to be driven at an easier pace than the old clutch buses. The new buses have a gear stick instead of a clutch. You start off in first gear and could be in third gear before the bus has come out of second. At the time we were told that it was very damaging to the buses. We were told that most runs in Dublin city would have to be extended by a few minutes. On an average a run of 40 minutes would have to be extended by three or four minutes because of the slowness of the buses. Notwithstanding that, our schedules department continued to churn out running times which were similar to the ones used 20 years ago when there was less traffic on the roads. The buses are being over-driven from 6 a.m. to midnight. It has been my experience that minor defects are ignored and they eventually become major defects. So long as the wheels are turning and the brakes are working they are considered roadworthy. Consequently, the maintenance of buses has never improved. The result is that we could not be expected to keep to the schedules. For instance a driver who takes a bus from Donnybrook depot to the outer terminus in Dalkey is given five minutes to report. He has an established running time of 30 minutes from Donnybrook to the outer terminus, picking up passengers from Ailesbury Road to Dalkey. He reports at 7.25 a.m., leaves the depot at 7.30 and is supposed to depart Dalkey at 8 o’clock. There is no recovery time whatsoever. An investigation of this schedule would show that, by the time the bus arrives in the city it is 20 minutes late. Consequently, the whole schedule is thrown out of gear. The difference between the peak hour running time and the so-called valley hour running time can be anything up to three minutes. We all know that travelling in the morning through Fairview or Rathmines, Ranelagh or Ballsbridge can add at least 10 to 15 minutes to the running time.

CIE know that a bus coming in from any of those areas will be running 30 minutes late. The crews are late taking the breaks to which they are entitled and they come back late. The public cannot understand why there is a bad bus service at 9 p.m. when traffic conditions are not bad. The earlier bad conditions disrupt the schedules throughout the day. We find it very hard to accept the criticism of the public. We are continuously being criticised about pulling buses into bays. We find corporation trucks picking up bins on so-called clearways in the morning.

Some years ago I attended a meeting of the traffic sub-committee in the Christ Church area. The trade union side maintained that there seems to be an obsession with planning roads. For example, in Earlsfort Terrace, which is a good wide street, there is a very wide bollard. Whoever planned it had only motor cars in mind.

One of my colleagues here drives on the No. 13 route, and from Pembroke Street into Leeson Street, to avoid taking the rear wheels up on the kerb, he must go very close to the concrete bollard. This causes a block up of traffic. We have various difficulties around town with one-way streets. In creating one-way streets at a certain part of that street a huge traffic island is constructed. This is something that has to be looked at in trying to get the traffic running freely. You have only to stand in O’Connell Street. You see the pedestrians blatantly ignoring the traffic lights if they get an opportunity. You may have a couple of hundred people crossing and holding up the traffic although the lights are in favour of the traffic. There must be subways which would be preferable to unsightly overhead bridges. Down through the years there has been no planning. There must be proper planning and the conditions as they are at the moment rectified. CIE have been screaming for bus lanes for years and we have been supporting them but there is no sign of the bus lanes.

357. Senator Cooney.—Had the recent Garda campaign against illegal parking generally on the clearways any effect?

Mr. Toomey.—As far as I am concerned it is almost useless.

358. Chairman.—Why is that?

Mr. Toomey.—I go across town. There are not enough gardaí to cope with the situation.

359. Chairman.—Is it making any improvement?

Mr. Toomey.—Slightly from Grafton Street inwards but the gardaí are thinking of the area in the centre of the city—from Grafton Street to Parnell Square. Take from Ranelagh—I complete Beechwood Avenue. There are no guards there. There are double yellow lines there and there is parking on them. You go down to Leeson Street. There are no guards around there and people are doing what they like. You cannot get into the bus stop. It is parked solid with cars. People are parking at meters and not putting money in. As far as I am concerned it has not been effective even at night time. Double yellow lines are there not to park on at any time but I have seen policemen walking up and down completely ignoring the whole thing. If the laws are put there by governments they should be enforced but they are not being enforced in this city and have not been enforced for years. Even when the wardens were there, they were turning a blind eye to a certain extent. I have stated before at meetings of joint consultative councils of CIE and the workers that I fully back up the comments of the chairman of CIE and the general manager with regard to conditions in Dublin city. I sat in a bus yesterday morning for four solid hours driving from one end to another.

360. Deputy Kenneally.—How long should it have taken you?

Mr. Toomey.—I should have been up in Clonskeagh or Griffith Avenue and sat there for five minutes or been able to get out and walk around.

361. Deputy Kenneally.—How long should it have taken?

Mr. Toomey.—45 minutes. It is frustrating busmen and all because of the traffic conditions.

Mr. Bunting.—We can give you thousands of instances. A traffic committee in Dublin should design an efficient system of traffic lights. For example if you turn right at Leonard’s Corner, you may encounter four changes of lights in order to get around it. We have repeatedly asked over the years for a filter light and the request was completely ignored. Those are little things but when you encounter them right across the city from Santry to Rathfarnham it adds up to 10 or 20 minutes which are not built into your schedule for the fluid movement of the bus service.

Chairman.—We have discussed that and apparently there is a very bad procedure for getting things like that done. It has to go to so many different committees—the Garda and the corporation and so on. It seems to be a terribly slow matter to get any change like that effected. I feel that that is something we will be commenting on.

Mr. Darby.—There are just two points I would like to raise. While we have endorsed some of the points made by the Chairman of CIE we will not endorse them all because they were not that friendly. We endorse the one in relation to his call that these services should be treated as a social service. We endorse that fully. There is no doubt about that. While he is not responsible for the second part, we do not agree with this business of the percentage of workers who are going to be on the State boards. We said it should be 50 per cent. That is our view on that. With a percentage of about one-third, the worker-directors are only just going to be there: we will have representation but it will not mean a thing.

362. Chairman.—Some time ago there was a secretary appointed to coordinate the various unions. Is that of any help to you?

Mr. Sweeney.—No. He was attached to the ICTU and as such he coordinated only in regard to Congress unions.

363. Chairman.—Does he not work with you?

Mr. Darby.—No, we do our own business. We did not seek this kind of service. I do not know who sought it in the first place.

364. Chairman.—Would he deal with requests from you if you asked him?

Mr. Darby.—We would not be asking him. We would be dealing directly with CIE either by meeting or by letter. We would use the normal industrial relations procedures which are there.

365. Deputy L. Lawlor.—He is paid by CIE?

Mr. Darby.—That is right.

366. Deputy L. Lawlor.—Is he working for the company?

Mr. Darby.—I do not know the conditions laid down but while he is being paid by the company it is stated that he is not working for them; but we use the well tried industrial relations procedures which are there.

367. Deputy L. Lawlor.—Being a man of great understanding of the union movement would he not be better able to see your viewpoint as such? I am sure he is advising the——

Mr. Darby.—We do not have to convince him of our viewpoint. He would not be in a position to give us anything.

368. Deputy L. Lawlor.—But he could help your case?

Mr. Darby.—I do not know if he could or not. I cannot see that he could. In relation to putting our case we cater solely for bus drivers and conductors. We believe that we are better able to put our case than anybody else.

369. Deputy L. Lawlor.—I think that mainly he is in the secretarial, communications, contact situation. There is no doubt that you can articulate your own case best but to avoid long delays in having cases dealt with has he not got a co-ordinating function that would be of benefit to all CIE unions?

Mr. Darby.—Where you have over 20 unions which are under the auspices of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions it is possible that it would be of advantage to have a secretary who would co-ordinate them. As far as we are concerned, we only deal with one group of people.

370. Deputy L. Lawlor.—Would it be an advantage to your union to be a member of the Congress?

Mr. Darby.—No. It would be of no advantage to us to be in Congress. We have never made an application. After all recently there were people looking for a wage increase in the Post Office and the early contribution of Congress—while they succeeded subsequently in acting as liaison —was to say they were going to expel them. That is an opportunity that we do not intend to give Congress anyway. When our union was formed in 1964 they stated we would not be allowed to join Congress.

371. Deputy Kenneally.—Are you satisfied with the inspection of vehicles? Up to ten or 12 years ago inspections were done by the Carriage Department.

Mr. Darby.—Many things were eliminated at that time, which is a pity. Of course we would like to see the Carriage Department taking an interest in these vehicles. They also did away with the PSV badges. In fact, a conductor had to be licensed. It cost only a shilling a year. It was a protection in that everybody knew who was coming into the employment. It was not a good thing to eliminate the badges.

372. Deputy L. Lawlor.—The traditional system of checking tickets does not seem to be in vogue any longer?

Mr. Darby.—It is. The company have a group which we call the Dirty Dozen, the Revenue Protection Unit. They are grade B inspectors. They go around in staff cars. All they are interested in is revenue.

373. Deputy L. Lawlor.—They did not always go around in cars?

Mr. Bunting.—The Deputy may be confusing that aspect of the business with the advanced vehicle monitoring system.

Mr. Darby.—There is a radio-telephone operation which means that there is a man in the depot in contact with the driver.

374. Chairman.—Some of the other unions said that in the old days there were more inspectors and that they played a bigger part. They said they would like to see that system back, that it was a more satisfactory system than the present one. What is your view?

Mr. Darby.—The old system was all right. The inspector had a particular area to check. He knew the people operating in his area. There was a close liaison between them. Now we have “hit” men going around. One of them may find me doing something wrong but what he does not know is that I may have done something over the past six months for the benefit of the employer.

375. Deputy O’Donnell.—Do you agree that the old inspector system was better than the present system?

Mr. Darby.—The old inspectors were not better; they were tougher men to work under. But the system whereby the inspector knew his men was a better system.

Deputy O’Donnell.—That is the point I was making.

Deputy L. Lawlor.—They were support to the staff on the bus in that they knew the men and the area.

Mr. Sweeney.—Another point in favour of the old system was that the inspector knew everything. If passengers were being left behind he would have an extra bus put on the route. The new system works in theory but not in practice. There is now an obsession with cheeseparing. The old system serviced the public better. Until recently I was on the 27 route. People who were queueing for long periods were being left at the terminus. When I told the inspector that we needed more buses on the route he said that we had enough seats available at certain times of the day.

376. Deputy L. Lawlor.—What do you think of the service in my constituency— Lucan, Clondalkin and Blanchardstown? I find that the extension of the service is rather piecemeal.

Mr. Sweeney.—We have stated that the proper thing to do in these areas is put in the maximum service. If, after six or 12 months, it is not working, then they can start cheeseparing. What CIE are doing at the moment is putting in a few buses. New housing estates should be given a good service.

377. Deputy O’Donnell.—Are CIE doing the opposite?

Mr. Darby.—The previous manager of the Dublin city service, who is now the general manager, was asked to put on an extra bus. He said he knew the people were there but it would cost £10,000 to buy another bus and that it would not pay them. He said it would be better to leave the people standing. This is a theory that goes down through CIE. We had a new radial route started which was a boon to CIE—one-man operated, single-deck. We continually told them that the men were going above and beyond the call of duty sooner than leave people behind because of the service that was on. The people demanded a service on Sunday and he told us that no way was he going to put on a service on a Sunday; they would just have to find alternative ways of travelling. I asked a simple question: “What is the function of the company? Is it not to provide a bus service? Or, is it going to provide one provided the rake off is good enough?” The answer seemed to be “No, we are not going to provide it. You can find some other way of travelling but it would not pay us to put on a bus at that stage.”

Deputy O’Donnell.—That is a cheeseparing policy.

Mr. Darby.—Even with a full bus it would not pay them.

Mr. Bunting.—The company’s policy is to detract from the bus services. In 1976 they took 33 buses off Dublin routes. You would not mind if they took them off the non-profitable routes like, say, the 12 and put them on Blanchardstown, Tallaght, Swords and areas like that. They will not do that. They took the 33 buses off to save themselves £2.5 million but they did not put the money into bus services for new areas.

378. Chairman.—Is the bus fleet actually less now than it was?

Mr. Bunting.—That is correct—since 1976.

Mr. Darby.—It was equal to 66 crews coming off. The cost of putting one bus on the road is £40,000. So £40,000 multiplied by 33 would be the annual cost of the buses on the road. The argument was that some of the routes had diminished. That may be true, but others had gained. The thing about it was this. They did not put one of these buses on routes such as Tallaght, which is a built-up area, and Lucan, Clondalkin, Blanchardstown, which is a big developing area at the moment. What they do is have a service operating to a certain point—there may be say three buses on the route. Then it is extended on into a new housing scheme. They make out a new schedule and extend the journey of the original three buses that they have. They would need to strengthen that service but they will not do so. They say that the passengers will have to show that they are there before they will do so.

379. Chairman.—With regard to the buses this question came up when the CIE representatives were here. They said they had fewer buses but the new buses are bigger—so they ended up with the same number of seats.

Mr. Darby.—They did take buses off but they introduced 74-seater buses for the first time in Dublin on the 16 route. They reduced the service by six buses.

380. Chairman.—But they say it ended up the same—there was the same number of seats.

Mr. Sweeney.—I would like to elaborate a little bit on this. What seems to be happening is that, even at a committee like this, we say one thing and CIE say something else. Recently the Labour Court carried out an investigation of our conditions. Unfortunately, as far as we were concerned, they did not do an in-depth investigation as we would have liked. Take the case of the new routes. It was obvious throughout the year that there was need for an outer route, a semi-radial route from Kilbarrack to Finglas because you have only to stand on Oscar Traynor Road to see the number of people thumbing lifts. There was a huge area there—a large number of working class people, various industries and what have you.

When CIE put the bus service on I think they started with a 40 minute service. There was an announcement of a new bus service but when you came out to get the bus, you could not get it. We had several meetings with CIE and said there was a massive potential there to put on buses but they would not do it. We eventually succeeded in getting a Sunday service but it started at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. About 10 o’clock is the normal time for Sunday services to start.

When I drew the manager’s attention to the fact that many people were left waiting for a very long time his reply to me was: “Well, they are a lot better off than they were last year because they had no bus service at all”.

What I am trying to suggest is that if there was some sub-committee set up to go to areas like this and travel on the 17A bus, they would see what that driver on his own has to do. Sometimes bus men get abused. We see adverse comments in the newspapers. It would be worth your while to travel on a 17A bus from Finglas to Kilbarrack and see the number of passengers that a man will pack in, in excess of his legal load. It is nothing unusual to have 17, 18 or 20 people standing. You get to know the people and you know people are trying to get to work. You are passing at 8 o’clock and you know there is not another bus until 8.20 or 8.30 and you do your best.

Such an investigation would prove categorically that CIE are not, under any circumstances, providing an adequate bus service for the public. There is no question about it. It is scandalous. We take the brunt of the attack for their shortcomings. No matter what we do, as representatives, we just cannot seem to get anywhere with them. You need some way of getting into the core of the problem to see really what is wrong because by listening to us and listening to them you do not know whom to believe and you may try to steer a middle path and it may not be the correct one.

381. Deputy O’Donnell.—Have CIE a monitoring system of their own?

Mr. Bunting.—Their attitude would be to send an inspector out and he would stand there at a distance away from the bus stop and as each bus would go by he would write down “full” or possibly something like that. The biggest investigaton which was done was a monitoring committee set up by the previous Minister for Labour, Deputy O’Leary, on the IBM system. This was the only union and management combined monitoring committee which actually did a survey. The results of that showed categorically that the bus services on No. 10, for example, was totally inadequate at certain times for the number of people going out to Belfield. You were talking earlier on about unofficial disputes and things like that. We actually have to threaten the man in our garage to get him to put on more buses. We say: If you are not going to put on more buses on the 79 route we will withdraw what is there because the drivers and conductors on the route are being abused by the passengers. They were being laughed at because they could not do their job properly.

Chairman.—I am afraid we will have to leave it at that, as there is another Committee starting at 7 o’clock. Thank you very much. You have been very helpful.

The witnesses withdrew.