There’s another bus strike looming, a strike that will disrupt, as usual, the more vulnerable in our society. Whereas many people can make alternative arrangements, travelling by car or working from home, for many employees of ISME member companies the alternatives are either walking to work or losing a day’s wages. This is all so that unions at Dublin Bus can try to bully a near 16% wage rise on top of an additional 6% claim they say dates back seven years. The independent Labour Court offer of an 8% pay rise was rejected by the drivers.
Honest, we’re not having a go at unions
However, in this instance ISME’s beef is not with the unions or their members. This time we want to take issue with journalists. Not all journalists, just those who are not financially rigorous in what they write.
Profit’s the word
SIPTU organiser Owen Reidy commented in the media, “Dublin Bus returned to profit in 2014. Over the last five years there has been an increase in passenger numbers and revenue is up 30 per cent.” That’s the word – profit. Mr. Reidy may think that Dublin Bus is in profit because he was able to quote a newspaper headline from 2014 that read, “Dublin Bus turned profits for the first time in years.” Similarly, last year, it was written that Dublin Bus recorded a ‘profit’ of €10.5m. But we at ISME have a different, more accurate, definition of profit – which is any monies left after all the costs and expenses are paid.
Dublin Bus received a massive subsidy of nearly €100m from the State over the last two years. So if one were to describe this correctly one would have to write, “Following a €100m transfer of taxpayer’s money to Dublin Bus its management chose to describe what wasn’t spent from this massive subsidy as a profit.”
They’re a laugh a minute in the musty rooms of accountancy practices, where the merry banter is whether a business can count a subsidy as an income and whether that income constitutes the makings of a profit. But that’s accountants for you. In the hardnosed world of ISME members the only profit they recognise is when more money comes into a business that goes out. Dublin Bus seems to look at monies given to them to buy buses more as a gift than as a cost. Meanwhile, every other bus company in the country pays hard cash for their buses, money that has to be paid back.
By the way
And while we’re on the journalists’ cases we should point that if you compound a 5% pay rise each year for three years, the actual number is closer to 16%. Financial nerds like to call it the extraordinary power of compounding. We just call it accurate.