April 2015        

Creeping privatisation

Kieran Crilly

The Government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party is privatising 10 per cent of Dublin Bus and 10 per cent of Bus Éireann. This is only the beginning, as the private sector will not be satisfied until these services are 100 per cent private.
     In Britain it was argued in 1985 that privatisation would increase competition. In reality it has caused a monopoly, with five companies controlling almost three-quarters of the transport market. These companies earned a bumper profit of £500 million in 2013.
     Since 1995 fares have gone up by 35 per cent above inflation. Since 2010 the number of miles of bus routes has been reduced by 23 per cent. Two thousand routes, mainly rural, have seen services reduced or axed. Employment and wages have declined, and conditions of employment have worsened. Office staffs have been decimated as the small bus companies were merged into the five large companies.
     In Ireland, a foreign company—most probably a British one—will get the contract, just as the Luas tram service was handed over to Veolia, a French company. They will make profits by cutting out loss-making (again, mainly rural) routes and by reducing off-peak services in the cities. They will then repatriate the profits.
     In time they will increase fares faster than inflation. They will also reduce wages and conditions. The Working Time Directive will be of only limited use, as was shown in the Greyhound case. Office workers will lose their jobs, as transnationals carry only a minimum staff here.
     Fine Gael is definitely on the side of the transnationals; but it is hard to understand the position of the Labour Party. In July 2011 its manifesto said: “. . . together with rebalancing transport policy to favour public transport,” etc. Now it is privatising.
     SIPTU transport members fund the Labour Party, which is adopting this policy that will destroy their jobs. SIPTU members should organise a campaign, alongside community groups, both urban and rural, to mount opposition to the government’s strategy. The question of funds going to the Labour Party from trade unions also needs to be looked at.

Home page  >  Publications  >  Socialist Voice  >  April 2015  >  Creeping privatisation
Baile  >  Foilseacháin  >  Socialist Voice  >  Aibreán 2015  >  Creeping privatisation