Private company 'Go Ahead' have been given 10% of Dublin Bus routes.
The NTA ( National Transport Authority) have awarded 24 Dublin Bus routes to a British multinational with an apalling record both on workers rights and providing public transport.
"Go Ahead" will start running the routes in Nov next year. The NTA will take 125 buses from Dublin bus and hand them to the private company. In annoucing the decision to take the routes away from the state company, the NTA exposed the whole tendering process for the scam it is.
They and the FG Government have claimed that giving state routes to private companies would be cheaper, more efficient and better for passengers. In fact the NTA admitted that the Dublin Bus bid to retain the routes was cheaper. Dublin Bus currently meet every target that the NTA sets for running the routes.
While admitting that the costs are higher with the private company, Anne Graham of the NTA tried to claim that" competition" would be better in the long run.It is ironic that the NTA and Fine Gael are willing to increase the funding going to a private operator when they have systematically undefunded Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann for years. Dublin Bus continues to receive one of the lowest subventions in Europe.
The reality is the whole purpose of competitive tendering is to try to bring non unionsed private companies into the city services in order to run down the wages and conditions of the exsisting workforce.Graham and the FG Govt hope to be able to tender out more and more routes and use the threat of losing routes as a stick to beat the unionsed CIE workforce in both Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann.
This deal will costs the state more money, while the NTA will decide the level of services and the fares, not Go Ahead, This makes a mockery of the entire argument in favour of "competition" While the NTA try to deny that this is privatisation, it is handing over existing state run services to a private operator; the very definition of privatisation.The fact that the regulator will fund the private company, and give them the buses to operate does not mean it is anything other than another form of privatisation.
The NTA is a government quango that is committed to "competition" and the market; a code for supporting private operators over state ones and undermining existing workers pay and conditions. The Authority control all public transport in Ireland and is staffed by political appointees from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. the decision to hand over public routes to private operators is a long standing policy of both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
Unions in Dublin Bus accepted the principal of tendering out the 10% after a strike in 2015, That strike saw the Government and the NTA guareentee drivers would not have to switch employment between the state company and whoever won the tenders for these routes.. The NTA claim no one will be made redundant but this depends on Dublin Bus increasing its services on other routes and on the Governement funding that expansion.Over 350 drivers will be needed to work the 24 routes affected.
At the time of the strike many busworkers warned that any guareentee could not be trusted and that the unions needed to oppose the whole plan to hand over public routes to private operators.
The NTA have stated that once the Go Ahead tender is operational and "sucessful" they will look at future tendering for more Dublin Bus routes. It is clear that they and their FG/FF masters will want more routes in the years ahead.They will annouce who gets 10% of Bus Eireann routes this year as well.
Go Ahead lost the contract for one rail line in England this week because of its poor proformance, it was voted worst rail operator by passengers in 2016, Dispite this its CEO still got a bonus of over 2 million pounds as the company made huge profits , chiefly from its bus operations. Last year it made 99 million sterling in profits. Drivers pay and conditions have been savaged since privatisation under Thatcher in the 1990s. In Oxford, drivers had to strike in march this year after Go Ahead tried to reduce payments for bank holiday work.
WHO ARE THE NTA?
The board of the NTA is staffed with political appointees of both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, most of whom have no experience of public transport but who either worked in various other state bodies or in finance and business. Its current board includes John Fitzgerald and Owen Keegan.
As Dublin city manager, Fitzgerald oversaw urban renewal policies that gave private developers free reign and huge tax breaks while riding roughshod over local working class communities. The ten years of his tenure in the city saw whole communities gentrified and developers make millions in profits.Council’s services where cut back or contracted out to private companies. He was the manager who pushed bin charges and his reward as a leading member of Irelands golden circle has been various board memberships like An Post and the HSE.
Aside from its board the NTA also has staff hand picked for their experience from the Thatcher privatisation of Britains Bus services in the 1990s. One official has worked with the First Bus company in England , a company that like Go Ahead has made millions from privatisation by hammering workers pay and conditions over the decades
The NTA claims it conducted research that proves the tendering policy works and cites a report it paid Ernst and Young to conduct. These genius consultants have previously given Anglo Irish Banks a glowing report before the crash. Such consultants are wheeled out by Governments and quangos to justify attacks on public services and the privatisation of public assets.
As Michael Taft of Unite points out the report itself used one other report of the experience in other countries to justify privatisation, while ignoring other studies that contradict its pro privatisation policy. In fact similar schemes in other countries have not resulted in improved services and tax payers often end up paying more for privatised routes.
What is universal is that private companies gain immense profits while worker’s wages and conditions get hammered; This is Fine Gael’s and Fianna Fails real agenda.
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