By BRIAN MOORE
WITH no end in sight, the Bus Éireann dispute continues to leave many commuters without a regular transport service.
Striking staff are mounting pickets at a number of Bus Éireann depots around West Cork, including Skibbereen, Macroom and Bandon.
‘Morale is good, but there is complete silence from the company, and that’s not good for anyone,’ Bus Éireann driver Ger Connolly from Skibbereen said.
‘Who could take a 30% cut to their wages? That’s what the company wants us to do. We’re fighting to maintain our terms and conditions and to hold on to our standard of living,’ he said. However, as the strike action continues, many people especially tourists, students and those with hospital appointments are being badly affected.
‘I normally get the bus from Bandon to the CIT every day,’ student John O’Brien said.
‘I’ve been lucky so far as I was able to organise a lift and it looks as if I’ll have to do this again next weekend, the way things are going. If it continues after the weekend, I’ll have to think about staying with some friends in Cork.’
Meanwhile, John O’Donovan (75) from Bantry also had to find alternative transport for an appointment at Cork University Hospital.
‘I hope the strike doesn’t go on too much longer,’ John said. ‘I have to go up again in two weeks’ time, and I would prefer not to have to get my son to take time off work again.’
Private bus operators have seen a huge increase in the numbers using their services.
However, the striking Bus Éireann drivers said that they had also received a lot of support from locals in West Cork.
‘We have had a lot of support from the people here in Skibbereen,’ Ger Connolly said.
‘I hope this support will continue. We know that people are finding it difficult, we want to go back to work as soon as possible, but we have to fight for our jobs and our families’ welfare as well,’ he explained.