Tuesday 16 January 2018

'It's lucky Luas didn't go under' - mediator

Kieran Mulvey spoke about nature of the Luas dispute Picture: Tony Gavin
Kieran Mulvey spoke about nature of the Luas dispute Picture: Tony Gavin

The State's former chief state mediator has described the Luas as a "four-letter word" he does not want to hear again after he tried to resolve the long-running dispute.

Kieran Mulvey, speaking on the day he retired as director general of the Workplace Relations Commission, said it was lucky that the row did not end in tram operator Transdev going out of business.

"Over the last two months, Luas became a bit of a four- letter word I don't want to hear - at least not for another six months of my retirement," said Mr Mulvey, who spent 25 years working in conciliation


He said the dispute was in "no way" the worst he had to deal with during his career - there was more at stake in other cases, including the Glass Bottle Company. "I had got a deal, and they still closed it," he said.

"Luas is the type of dispute that comes along rarely and occasionally, that at certain stages does not seem amenable to what normally passes as the normal engagement of industrial relations.

"We're lucky in the Luas dispute that it didn't end in closure. That's my feeling, for the simple reason that the longevity and nature of that dispute in, let's say, a manufacturing company would have probably led an employer to lift the tent."

He also described a row between himself and Siptu general president Jack O'Connor, who called for him to resign after accusing him of bias, as "great radio".

"Jack and I met the following week and had a great discussion about life, our own careers, and our own backgrounds.

"We've known each other for 30 years. That was great radio, but let it be archived," he said.

He also revealed he does not see much "room for manoeuvre" in terms of public servants getting a major pay boost on top of what is already promised next year under the Lansdowne Road agreement. He said the earliest he saw an acceleration of refunds of the €1.4bn pay cuts still outstanding is 2018. "I don't see where the room for manoeuvre is," he said.

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