Stranded students, missed lectures and having to endure plenty of cycling and walking. This is the reality many students face because of the bus strikes. DCU has tried to help the students in their commute to college by promoting a transport app called CitySwifter but all is not plain sailing.
As a result of DCU encouraging students to avail of CitySwifter, a row broke out across the campus involving DCU, staff and SIPTU. SIPTU fears the service may jeapordise the effectiveness of the industrial action taking place at Dublin Bus.
The trade union wrote to the university to express their members’ “utter dismay at the insensitive approach taken by the university” in promoting a company whose marketing strategy they say “is clearly undermining the effectiveness of a lawful trade union dispute”
CitySwifter.com, which is the brainchild of DCU graduates, has been heavily promoted throughout DCU as an alternative option to get to college on the days of the strike. SIPTU says it has no problem with staff using the app but they feel it is inappropriate for a publicly-funded institution to promote it.
In its online marketing campaigns, CitySwifter makes repeated references to the strike, uses the hash tag #KeepDublinMoving and has shared, via twitter, footage from the 1979 bus strike showing the army attempting to weaken the impact of the strike.
This is not the first time the company has caused controversy. During the Luas strike, it promoted itself with hashtags such as #WhoNeedsTheLuas, and #LuasStrikeSaver while giving out free ice cream to patrons using services that ran along Luas routes.
AAA T.D Paul Murphy said, “It is very unfortunate that CitySwifter has effectively chosen to market itself as a strike-breaking operation”. He accused the company of “trying to undermine the strike” and he encouraged people “not to use their service on strike days and to support the Dublin Bus workers.”
DCU’s Student Union also encouraged students to avail of the service which was frowned upon by the trade union. Comparisons were made to student unions of other universities such as UCD, whose members expressed their solidarity with the bus drivers.
CitySwifter said that they never wanted “to replace Dublin Bus” and expressed regret that some people may “misunderstand” the service which “was available prior to industrial action and will be available long after”.
In an email to its members following their complaint to DCU, SIPTU said: “Whether or not the intent was to act as strike breaker, it is quite dubious for a university to promote a private company seeking commercial gain out of an industrial dispute.”
It says it has no wish to “impose our views on anybody, but simply want to make a basic point of trade union principle that DCU is a place of learning and it should not take sides in industrial disputes.” DCU did not return calls to comment on the content of this article.
Photo Credit: www.DCU.ie