herald

Friday 30 September 2016

Luas jobs at risk as Transdev warns pay deal 'a long way' off

Commuters walk the Luas Green line during February’s strike
Commuters walk the Luas Green line during February’s strike

Luas drivers "are a long, long way" off cutting a pay deal with operators Transdev after the company indicated that jobs could be at risk as a result of lost revenue from strike action.

A letter from management in the UK said the company would have to consider job cuts and increased productivity to reduce operating costs.

Transdev's chief for the UK and Ireland, Nigel Stevens, said the company will not stand idly by while the "challenging financial position is further eroded".

Progress

Representatives of the drivers' union, Siptu, said that while they were aware of Mr Stevens' letter, industrial action will continue until an agreement is in place.

The union will meet with Transdev bosses again today to see if any progress has been made on their demands.

Drivers are prepared for a further seven strikes over the next six weeks, beginning with a 48-hour stoppage on April 23 and 24, giving both parties two weeks to reach a deal.

Further strikes will take place on April 28 and May 4, 13, 20 and 27, while a four-hour stoppage will take place on May 26.

The drivers have taken eight days of strike action so far this year.

Siptu, which was seeking pay increases of between 8pc and 53pc for 200 drivers, rejected a compromise deal from the Workplace Relations Commission last month.

The deal is believed to have offered drivers increases of between 10pc and 19.2pc, but they have been taken off the table by the company.

A spokesman for the drivers told the Herald it was no surprise that the offer was pulled, given that 98.5pc of drivers overwhelmingly rejected it.

He said that unless the company addresses the three reasons the offer was rejected, there is no prospect of a resolution.

Siptu said it was turned down because of the lower rates on the table for new entrants, along with the productivity conditions being either too much or too vague and the pay for the productivity being "disproportionately low".

Transdev management's conviction is believed to have been boosted by the lack of public support for the striking drivers.

Demands

According to the letter issued by Mr Stevens, increased productivity when the Luas Green Line is extended to Cabra next year may form part of the demands placed on Luas workers.

However, Siptu said there will only be increased productivity if it is negotiated and agreed on by drivers.

"The workers are happy to sit down and negotiate a new agreement, that's what they want to do," a spokesman said.

"If there's talk of productivity, then that has to be part of that process and it has to be agreed on. We're a long, long way away."

All-out strike action has not been ruled out by Siptu and is said to be "always under consideration" but is not deemed to be a likely course of action at the moment.

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