The Communist Party of Ireland condemns the attempt at further privatisation by putting out to public tender another 10 per cent of Bus Éireann routes.
We are not fooled by the standard neo-liberal dual strategy of starving and running down their target, in this case Bus Éireann, through lack of investment and financial support, coupled with demonisation by the mainstream media.
This is purely an ideological decision by the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport. The principal reason for privatising is to reduce the pay and conditions of bus workers and to transfer the profits to their friends and paymasters in the corporate sector. The other reason, of course, is the withdrawal of the state from providing public services. This will eventually lead to the closing down of large swathes of the public transport network, as profit takes precedence over service. We have already seen this with the 10 per cent of Dublin bus routes that have been privatised, coupled with the “Bus Connects” plan to scrap many routes. Workers in Go Ahead Bus are on substantially less pay than the workers in Dublin Bus.
CIE was originally set up to provide decent and reliable public transport as well as decent jobs for our citizens. It was a reaction to the chaos that was public transport when in private hands, which had no intention of providing a proper transport service: its only purpose was to line the pockets of the owners by exploiting the workers and charging the passengers excessive fares for travelling on substandard vehicles.
This proposal is a step back to the bad old days of the chaos that existed before public transport was put into public ownership. The privatisation of transport has been proved to lead to a a poorer, less frequent and lower-quality service wherever it has been introduced.
This attack on public transport must be resisted and defeated by transport workers and their unions.