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Saturday 10 December 2016

Luas row reaches end of the line, but deal set to fuel pay demands

Luas pay deal is likely to fuel demands from other workers
Luas pay deal is likely to fuel demands from other workers

Workers stand to get bigger pay rises in the wake of the landmark 18pc increase won by Luas drivers.

The drivers will get an annual wage hike of up to 4pc every year. This will take place over four years up to September 2020 following a four-month campaign of industrial action and the first strike in the tram company's history.

The deal is double what employers expect to give workers this year, despite the fact that tram operator Transdev lost €700,000 last year.

Drivers yesterday voted in favour of a Labour Court recommendation that will boost their total earnings at the maximum of the pay scale from €42,247 to €49,972 and up to €53,220 when a 6.5pc bonus is included.

The pay rise is expected to fuel a free-for-all as unions push for bigger rises across all sectors and workers try to regain ground lost during the recession since the collapse of social partnership.

The transport sector, in particular, is expected to become more militant, with the threat of industrial action on buses and trains if employers do not concede.

Officials from the National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU) are due to meet Dublin Bus at the Labour Court on June 30 on the back of the Luas claim, and union bosses have acknowledged that the tram saga "sets a marker".

Victory

The Labour Court made a link between the tram drivers' pay and public servants, which could be used to back up future claims in other workplaces.

"This is a significant victory for these workers, but we believe this Labour Court recommendation, which is equivalent to 4pc a year, sets the marker for other workers and other members of Siptu, not just in the transport sector but across the commercial semi-state sector and private sector," said Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy.

"We believe workers can now go forward with confidence to seek to improve their conditions of employment."

The NBRU wants to bridge a gap of up to 31pc between the bus and tram drivers, whose wages are often pegged at similar levels in other EU nations.

"We are before the Labour Court on June 30 with Dublin Bus to seek significant and long-overdue pay rises for our members," said general secretary Dermot O'Leary.

"It is our intention to make the case that Dublin Bus should pay increases at least in line with those recommended by the Labour Court at Transdev, given that it is back in the profit- making space, unlike Transdev."

The general secretary of retail union Mandate, Jack Douglas, said the pay deal will not go unnoticed.

"There is an expectation among workers that wages are starting to increase," he said.

Surveys by IBEC and Mercer predicted the average rise this year will be 2pc, though workers in technology will fare better.

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