Hundreds of Donegal commuters will be affected by travel chaos and forced to make alternative arrangements following an announcement that Bus Éireann drivers are to go on strike from midnight tonight, Thursday, March 23.
Students returning from third level colleges across the country will also be impacted, although many will, if seats are available, opt for the many private services that run from university campuses such as Galway to Donegal.
The National Bus and Rail Union and SIPTU have said their members are to engage in an all-out and indefinite strike at Bus Éireann as a reaction to management's decision to implement significant cost-saving measures without union agreement.
Unions had warned that any such move by management would result in a strike.
Bus Éireann has said that the strike is extremely disappointing and will only worsen its already difficult financial crisis.
In a statement, it said the company is facing insolvency in a matter of months and insisted that it would be completely irresponsible not to act to implement cost saving measures urgently.
The company have said that financial losses for January and February of this year are 41% higher than for the same period in 2016. It also said that losses for last year were €9.4m.
School bus drivers will not be a part of the planned strike, which is set to come into effect tonight, but unions have said they could be brought into stoppage if the dispute escalates.
The Small Firms Association (SFA) has condemned the announcement by the five unions at Bus Éireann that they plan to engage in an indefinite strike, with just 9 hours notice. Patricia Callan, SFA Director, commented: "Thousands of commuters all around the country will face severe difficulties in getting to and from work. In addition, the delays caused by the inevitable increase in traffic will be costly for all small businesses trying to get their goods to market throughout the country and to the ports/airports."
Callan continued: "This strike is unjustifiable. Bus Éireann operates in a deregulated, competitive market and states that it is losing €50,000 each week and is facing insolvency. In order to survive, work practices will need to change and cost efficiencies gained. The threat by the NBRU of spillover action to Dublin Bus and Irish Rail is entirely reprehensible and must be stopped."
Retail Excellence (RE) is calling for an immediate solution to resolve the Bus Eireann impasse as retail sales could plunge by up to 60% once strike action is implemented said Lorraine Higgins, Head of Public Affairs and Communications.
Commenting on the situation Lorraine Higgins, said: “The planned strike will cause havoc for our retailers who will see a negative impact on footfall and retail sales activity at a time when they can least absorb it. Significant damage will be done to retail activity in the coming days and there will undoubtedly be a double digit decline in sales. On that basis everyone loses".