Protection vests issued to security staff on the Luas lines do not protect against needle attacks, it has emerged.
It comes as staff from STT Risk Management, the private company that provides security for Luas operator Transdev, have begun an industrial relations process to seek better pay.
Security officers on the light rail system are supplied with black vests, which are supposed to protect them against stab attacks. But when tested by some concerned staff, they say the needles were easily able to pierce through the material, as our pictures show.
Needles have been utilised as weapons by drug users and attacks pose the added risk of infecting security personal with bloodborne disease, such as HIV.
Despite putting their lives on the line to keep commuters safe, security personal are paid just €10.75 an hour – an amount described as “pennies” by Dublin city councillor Mannix Flynn.
STT staff have rejected a 6pc pay increase recommended by the Labour Court, raising concerns that they may be the next out on strike, following the drivers. It would bring the basic hourly wage to €11.40 per hour by the beginning of 2018. The union representing the staff, Siptu, said that it had now written to STT management requesting a meeting to discuss the pay claim.
Siptu sector organiser Diane Jackson said the request for discussions was part of an ongoing industrial relations process. She said that a report referring to an imminent ballot for strike action by the workers was incorrect.
There was no response to questions put to Transdev about the safety of the vests or the pay claim last night. It is unclear if the Luas could still operate if the workers decided to strike.
They have received support from at least two independent city councillors – Mannix Flynn and Christy Burke.
“I say good luck to them. If you look at the Luas, it’s an absolute crime spree. There are people injecting, people passed out on the floor, it’s disgraceful,” Mr Flynn said.
“It’s pennies they get paid, when you consider the danger of the work they do,” he added.
Mr Flynn said it was time to establish a transport branch of the gardai, to specifically police public transport, such as the Luas. Former Dublin lord mayor, Mr Burke, also supported the workers.
“Everybody has a right to strike to try and secure better pay and working conditions. They bring a great sense of security to people who use the Luas,” he said.
Security guards on the Luas lines are paid the minimum wage for security staff, and less than the €13.84 that is paid to security on the Dart.
They brought a pay claim to the Labour Court, claiming their role goes beyond regular security guards, the ‘profile’ of people they deal with on the Luas is different to those encountered by other security staff and they deal with more anti-social behaviour.
The discontent comes as the ongoing dispute between Luas drivers and management over pay shows no sign of being resolved.
Further work stoppages by drivers are planned by drivers on Thursday and Friday.