Thursday 27 October 2016

More misery for Luas users as union vows to ramp up strike

Alana Butler was just one commuter walking to town along the Luas tracks at Ranelagh following the strike (INM)
Alana Butler was just one commuter walking to town along the Luas tracks at Ranelagh following the strike (INM)

Commuters face the prospect of more misery as the industrial dispute at Luas ramps-up.

Workers have vowed to mount industrial action every two weeks unless management agree to increase pay and improve terms and conditions.

Some 90,000 commuters will be forced to find alternative ways of travel to work as the bitter row, which has resulted in no Luas services for four days, shows no signs of ending.

Both sides remain at loggerheads, and there is no plan for them to meet to find a way out of the impasse.

Pressure to begin negotiations has intensified after SIPTU warned of further days of industrial unrest unless management agree to meaningful talks.

"We're getting more and more intractable," divisional organiser Owen Reidy said.

"Every Friday we meet (with workers) and review what's taken place. Every week they will consider action. We have to give 21 days notice and I think you're looking at a situation where unless we get to a place where we will see some resolution, you will see more dates.

"I don't want to speculate but my sense is that more dates will be announced every two weeks unless there's a resolution. You're going to see a pattern of rolling industrial action every two weeks.

"We're happy to talk to the company but they have to move away from hikes of 3pc linked to productivity. We're not going to call off any action until there is a resolution," Mr Reidy said.

Workers, who have already lost pay and annual bonuses worth as much as €3,000 for drivers, are seeking pay hikes ranging from 8.5pc to 53.8pc for more than 200 staff, paid over five years.


Management have offered increases between 1pc and 3pc, linked with productivity.

Staff are also seeking a free GP service for drivers, an increase in the annual bonus from 6.5pc to 10pc, higher rates of sick pay and an increase in annual leave, among other demands.

But the company said it is losing money and cannot afford to pay the claims, which would cost over €19m over the five years. The strike has caused misery for commuters forced to make alternative travel arrangements.

Traffic ground to a slow crawl on the Dublin quays yesterday morning, with AA Roadwatch saying that the roads were busier than normal.

Further strike action is planned for Tuesday March 8 and St Patrick's Day, March 17. It is feared that services around Easter could also be affected if further strikes are called.

Employer Transdev said there had been no contact with Siptu, but managing director Gerry Madden insisted that Luas drivers were at the top of the scale in terms of payment and benefits compared with staff in other transport operators.

"Against almost every measure in the transport sector in Ireland, we are the Rolls Royce," he told Newstalk. "We are paying not just reasonable [rates] but over the top compared to the others."

The proposed pay increase was "just not feasible", he said, adding he hoped the union would reduce its claim.

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