White gives ‘cautious welcome’ to the revised service proposals from Dublin Bus

July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Alex White TD has today given a cautious welcome to the revised service proposals announced by Dublin Bus on the Network Direct process.

Commenting on the public consultation undertaken by Dublin Bus, Deputy White said “Dublin Bus are to be commended for the work they undertook to ensure local people had an opportunity to share their views. When I drew to the company’s attention that there was a clear demand for a further public meeting, Dublin Bus did organise a further meeting with the communities in Ballyboden, Ballyroan, Firhouse, Knocklyon and Edmondstown.”

The key amendments to the changes proposed originally will see a better service choice for the commuters of Glenlyon, Glenvara and Castlefields, off Ballycullen Road, with the proposed redirecting of the 65B to travel the Ballycullen Road . Also there is to be a route alteration to the new 61 route (Whitechurch terminus) that will ensure commuters on the lower end of the Ballyboden Road will retain a regular service. And the new 15B route will significantly shorten the journey-time to town (now via Rathfarnham) to that of the original proposal.

Commenting on the new 15 and 15B, Deputy White said “The loss of the original 15 route and its terminus on Scholarstown Road is deeply regrettable and while I have asked that this would be further reviewed, I do welcome the high frequency and as such, greater capacity, within the provisional 15 and 15B schedules.”

Dublin Bus has published the amended proposals on their Network Direct website which can be viewed at:
www.dublinbus.ie/en/Network-Direct/Network-Direct-Phase-2/

We stand for legislation on JLCs that will work and not legislation that could ultimately be faulty

July 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Following the the recent court decision in relation to JLCs and EROs, Fianna Fáil brought forward a piece of legislation called the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2011 which was discussed in the Dáil chamber last night. 

It is not unreasonable for Deputy O’Dea to introduce this Bill in order that we can have a debate on the issue. Apart from one or two new proposals in the Bill, it is largely the same as the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2009, which I supported and spoke in favour of in the Seanad. The Deputy is correct in saying that the 2009 Bill was an attempt to anticipate the likely frailty and ultimate fate of a challenge that was then being brought to the orders and to the JLC system.

While I understand where Deputy O’Dea is coming from as regards the notion of the Government appealing the decision of Mr. Justice Feeney to the Supreme Court as a “tactic”, he will appreciate that such an approach is fraught with danger, particularly for a Government in circumstances in which – according to the Deputy and if I heard him correctly – the prospect of success is “minuscule”. And it would be wrong for the House to have the impression that bringing forth such an appeal would mean the Government would automatically obtain a stay on the existing Employment Regulation Orders. Indeed, obtaining a stay in the context of the High Court decision would be extremely difficult.

It is not unreasonable for the Deputy to introduce the Bill, but the Government is right and the Minister and Taoiseach are correct in the approach they have taken in saying that the Bill is not sufficiently robust. If the legislation is to achieve what people want, a number of matters must be addressed and necessary and vital improvements must be made to make the legislation fit for purpose.

We cannot forget that there were two essential pillars in the Feeney judgment. One was the absence of principles and policies to guide the Labour Court and the JLCs and the other was the issue of whether property rights under the Constitution were offended by the JLC system. As a minimum, a prudent Government and the House would want to proof legislation in the context of the latter issue, given the fact that previous proposals on protective and trade union legislation came up a cropper on this issue. This issue of property rights and their effects presents a considerable problem to those of us who want real reform and full collective bargaining rights for trade unions. It also presents a problem in this instance, in that it would be most imprudent to rush legislation when the High Court has identified that the property rights issue must be addressed. Perhaps it cannot be dealt with in legislation alone. Given the nature of these rights, dealing with them solely in legislation is difficult, but they must be addressed.

The other issue is that referred to by the Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, and my colleague Deputy Mitchell, namely, the question of principles and policies raised in the judgment. The Minister, Deputy Bruton, has signalled an intention to introduce reforms, the Government has committed to reforming the JLC system and there has been consultation and debate on how that should be achieved and what the changes would be precisely. I expect that agreement can be reached on this agenda, and the principles and policies resulting from the agreement should be incorporated in any new legislation. Those contained in Deputy O’Dea’s Bill come from the 2009 Bill, referring to the “interests” of the workers, employers and so on, are somewhat bland and cover a bit of ground but not all the ground. We should use the legislation to provide for those new principles and policies as well. « Read the rest of this entry »

JLC Judgment an opportunity for careful assessment of wage-setting mechanisms

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Today’s High Court judgment dealing with the JLC system of pay determination has identified a significant flaw in the 1946 and 1990 Acts” according to Labour TD Alex White.

“Mr Justice Feeney concluded that the legislation provided no guidance to the Labour Court or to the Joint Labour Committees as to how they should go about fixing rates of pay. This judgment follows a line of authority from the Courts that basic principles and policies should be set out in legislation by the Oireachtas, rather than being determined by the implementing bodies themselves.

“This flaw can be rectified, and that is in part what the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill of 2009 set out to achieve. That Bill, which Labour supported, had not been enacted by the time the last Dail was dissolved. Urgent consideration should now be given to reviving it.

“I believe that far from constituting a fatal blow, today’s judgment presents an opportunity for a careful and sensible assessment of the wage-setting mechanisms in low-pay sectors. We need to ensure that the fullest protection is afforded to low-paid workers, whilst also ensuring that the Labour Court and the JLCs operate on a sound legal and constitutional footing into the future”.

“One should not allow the perfect be the enemy of the possible”

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last Tuesday, the chamber debated the Electoral Amendment Bill 2011. There are important proposals that being brought forward, such as a lower spending cap for Presidential elections, and a maximum delay of 6 months for by elections. I spoke in favour of the Bill.

I welcome the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2011. It constitutes an important advance and as other speakers have noted, it forms a single element of a highly ambitious programme of reform the Government has set out to achieve and introduce. It is important that Members bear this point in mind.

One of the most important measures that has been agreed in the programme for Government is the establishment of a constitutional convention. I heard Deputies Pearse Doherty and Éamon Ó Cuív making a number of points earlier that I thought had great validity such as, for example, a suggestion about a list system. In addition to a number of suggestions from other speakers, such a change could only be dealt with or addressed through constitutional change, which is the reason it will be extremely important for the Government to turn its attention as quickly as possible, hopefully later this year, to establishing the constitutional convention once it has got through the more immediate proposals regarding constitutional change and the referendums that already are on the blocks. It is only when such a constitutional convention is established that it will be possible to consider all these issues in the round. It will be possible to consider matters more widely.

Electoral reform and the electoral system for the Dáil is one of the priority items in the programme for Government the constitutional convention is to address. It will provide the opportunity to deal with questions such as whether there should be a list system, the broader question of elections or perhaps the establishment of a permanent electoral commission. In itself, that measure would not require a constitutional change but broad questions on what electoral system it is best to have or how best to elect people to this Parliament can be addressed in the context of a constitutional convention. I hope such a convention is brought forward as early as possible in the autumn.

Nevertheless, simply because one states it is necessary to have a broader debate on such issues and on how to have constitutional change, this does not mean there are no measures that can be taken now. One should not allow the perfect be the enemy of the possible or the more immediately achievable measures such as those contained in this legislation. It contains three discrete items, each of which can and should be dealt with at this time and which should not be obliged to wait for the broader programme or agenda. The question of by-elections manifestly should be dealt with as quickly as possible and it is good the Minister has brought forward this measure so quickly. The Government may consider itself to be under a certain amount of pressure on foot of the High Court decision but notwithstanding that, it still is commendable that the Government has brought forward this proposal as quickly as it has.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Further meeting to take place on Dublin Bus proposals

July 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Following from a meeting that took place in Terenure two weeks ago, Dublin Bus have announced a second drop-in session in relation to their Network Direct proposals for the Rathfarnham, Knocklyon, Whitechurch and Ballyboden areas.

The event has been organised for Wednesday 6 July between 5pm and 8pm in Ballyroan Boys National School.

This is a drop-in session and I would encourage those with concerns to meet with the representatives from Dublin Bus at the meeting.

Those who will be unable to make it can contact Dublin Bus (click here) or can contact my office.

A full list of the amendments are available from Dublin Bus by clicking here. Among the proposals:

  • Route 16 will be a high frequency service operating at least every 10 minutes during peak times from Ballinteer (Kingston) to Dublin Airport. This will significantly improve the reliability of the service and help maintain even intervals between the service at all stages on its route.
  • Route 16a will be replaced on the Southside by route 61 (see below for details) and on the Northside by Route 3 and Route 16. Route 16 will now serve Dublin Airport.
  • Route 15, 74 and 128 will be amalgamated and renamed route 15. This high frequency service, operating every 10 minutes at peak times, will provide increased cross city penetration providing direct connections to Connolly Rail Station, Fairview and the Malahide Road. Route 15 will be extended to Stocking Avenue via St. Colmcille’s Way and Ballycullen Road.
  • Route 15a will operate its current alignment to the city centre. Timetables will be adjusted to meet customer demand and provide improved integration on the common alignment between current services 15, 15a and 15b.
  • Route 15b and 74a will be amalgamated and called route 15b. This service will operate from Stocking Avenue to the city centre via Stocking Lane, Scholarstown Road, Ballyboden Way, Ballyroan Road, Marian Road and Templeogue Road.
  • Route 15e and 15f will no longer operate.
  • Route 61 will operate from Whitechurch to the city centre via Grange Road, Nutgrove Avenue, Churchtown Road Lower, Rathmines and St. Stephen’s Green.

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