herald

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Luas strike action now 'inevitable' as hopes of breakthrough dashed

Minister Paschal Donohoe
Minister Paschal Donohoe

Hopes of a breakthrough in the bitter Luas dispute have been dashed as the blame game between the company and workers intensified.

High-level sources last night accepted that strike action planned for tomorrow and Monday is "inevitable" and will cause widespread disruption during one of the busiest periods for the capital.

Luas services are due to be suspended tomorrow and on Monday, causing massive disruption to the Easter Rising commemorations.

The Herald can reveal that there are no plans for a last-minute intervention from Luas operator Transdev, the Siptu, the Government or the country's leading industrial relations troubleshooter, Kieran Mulvey.

Businesses in the city have warned they are facing financial losses of more than €1m during the two-day stoppage.

In a worrying development, acting Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe warned that "indefinite strike action" is on the cards as the country braces for an escalation in industrial disputes.

Mr Donohoe said he is not prepared to intervene in the dispute between workers and Transdev if it is at the expense of the taxpayer.

"For me the priority now is the commemorative period," he told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke.

"The uniqueness of this period is understood, I know, by everyone in the trade union movement, and they need to reflect on that and lead to the reinstatement of these services."

Misrepresented

Transdev said its previous pledge of an 18pc pay rise over three years is now off the table entirely.

Siptu leader Jack O'Connor said his officials are willing to engage with Transdev, but said the company must improve its offer.

He also claimed that the pay demands have been "misrepresented" and only add up to 10pc.

"One of the reasons it was rejected is because of the way it has been represented, as an increase of 18pc over three years. It's not that," said Mr O'Connor.

He raised eyebrows after questioning how James Connolly would have responded to such a dispute.

"I wonder what would Connolly do? Would he have gone out now and betrayed workers? No, he would have not," he said.

Mr Donohoe is due to make a last-ditch appeal today for both sides to come together, but sources said he is resigned to the strikes going ahead.

Staff are also due to withdraw their labour for a further two 48-hour stoppages next month.

Transdev boss Gerry Madden is consulting with company executives on the stalemate and is due to make a statement on the matter next week.

He has warned that the strike has serious implications for the firm.

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