Non-EU bus drivers permitted to work to tackle recruitment crisis

Department of Enterprise says drivers must receive a minimum annual wage of €30,000 based on a 39-hour week

Non-EU bus drivers have been permitted to work in the State to help tackle the recruitment crisis in the sector.

A quota of 1,500 employment permits for bus and coach drivers has been established by the Department of Enterprise, with the changes coming into effect from last month.

The Department said drivers must receive a minimum annual remuneration of €30,000 based on a 39-hour week, and must hold driving licence categories D, DE, D1 and D1E or the recognised equivalent.

It said changes to the employment permits system for workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to address the skills shortage in the State’s dairy, transport and home care sector began on December 16th.


The department added that it did not yet have figures on the number of applications made to date.

Family-friendly rosters just don’t exist, especially if people have young children

Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus & Rail Union (NBRU), said bus operators are currently experiencing a recruitment and retention crisis which is affecting services for commuters.

“Various sectors of the economy are experiencing this, obviously the hotels, restaurant industry, they’re all experiencing the same problem, they can’t get workers at the moment,” he said.

“Bus services are now becoming 24-hour, which is good for the public and we welcome it, but the downside to that is people are being exposed to working around the clock and some people are leaving the industry for that very reason. Family-friendly rosters just don’t exist, especially if people have young children.”

Mr O’Leary said anti-social behaviour on bus routes, as was seen in west Tallaght in recent weeks, was also putting people off working in the industry.

Drivers reported 35 incidents of violence, attacks, vandalism, threats with knives and a woman driver “terrorised by a huge mob” on west Tallaght routes last month, and told Dublin Bus they would not travel into certain estates during the evenings until the problem was resolved.

“Not only does that not entice people in to work in the industry, it doesn’t entice people to travel on public transport, and we all want people to use more public transport,” Mr O’Leary added.

He said bus drivers are still not travelling into the housing estates in Killinarden and Jobstown during the evenings, as “resolutions to that issue have not been forthcoming yet”.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times