Sunday 20 August 2017

Commuters use Luas tracks for walking as service shuts down for tenth day

Heavier traffic on major routes around Dublin due to strike

Walking the LUAS Line near Charlemont St stop this morning
Walking the LUAS Line near Charlemont St stop this morning
Commuters making their way into the city near Charlemont Street.
Walking the LUAS Line near Charlemont St
Walking the LUAS Line near Charlemont St
Walking the LUAS Line near Charlemont St stop this morning
Commuters heading to town along the Luas tracks at Ranelagh during strike action. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh & Louise Kelly

Luas passengers face more strikes next month as drivers hold another 24-hour work stoppage today.

Many commuters spent their morning walking on the empty Luas tracks to work as travel is disrupted for the tenth day.

Heavier traffic has been reported on major routes around Dublin as a result of the rail service stoppage.

A number of areas are particularly busy, particularly on the south side of the city, as more drivers than usual take to the roads this morning.

Motorists travelling from Dundrum to Milltown are spending over 40 minutes on the short commute, while those intending to drive through Goatstown and Clonskeagh are advised to avoid if at all possible.

Meanwhile, the North Quays traffic is bumper to bumper, with the distance between Wolfe Tone Quay and Bachelors Walk taking almost 30 minutes.

Siptu said its union committee will unveil further strike dates later this week or early next week in the row over pay rises.

It has to give the company 21 days' notice of industrial action under a collective agreement with the tram operator.

But drivers fear they may be laid off within days after light rail operator Transdev threatened they would be struck off the payroll for refusing to carry out their "full range" of duties.

The long-running dispute is likely to reach a crisis point ­within weeks after Transdev ­began docking drivers' pay by 10pc for taking part in a work-to-rule.

Sign at the Charlemont St LUAS stop this morning
Sign at the Charlemont St LUAS stop this morning
Walking the LUAS line near Charlemont St stop during the ongoing pay dispute
Commuters making their way into the city near Charlemont St
Walking the LUAS Line near Charlemont St stop this morning

They will feel the full effect of the wage reductions - that began last Friday in their payslips - towards the end of the month.

And pressure on the drivers will mount, as Transdev is likely to act on its threat to begin to lay off drivers participating in industrial action.

Siptu revealed it is planning to lodge cases with Rights Commissioners after alleging the company is in breach of Payment of Wages legislation by cutting the workers' wages.

Ticket inspectors, their supervisors, and control room staff, who have reached agreement with Transdev on pay rises of 13pc, do not have to pass today's pickets in order to get paid.

The company has given them the option to take annual leave. They could also take an unpaid day off.

Drivers recently rejected an offer from Transdev of a 10pc pay rise.

The other three grades of workers at the company have agreed a deal worth 13pc.

But drivers claim they have narrowed the gap between their demands and what the company agreed in a Workplace Relations Commission deal they rejected.

The commission package equalled 18pc over 33 months.

The drivers are demanding a 22.5pc pay rise by 2019. They say a 26.5pc figure Transdev says they are demanding includes an increase of 4pc they are seeking in their bonus.

They say the 22.5pc demand would equal just over 4.5pc a year for each year of the five-year Transdev contract, which began in 2014.

Impose

Siptu official Owen Reidy said Transdev's decision to impose a 10pc pay-cut on drivers had driven them closer to their workplace representatives. "Cutting their pay by 10pc has strengthened their resolve," he said.

"They do want to reach an agreement and are not far - less than 4pc - from the value of the Workplace Relations Commission deal, bar a few changes."

The next strike is due to take place on Friday week but more are expected for June.

Work stoppages have already been announced for Friday May 13, Friday May 20, and Thursday May 26, for four hours between 3pm and 7pm.

Another 24-hour strike is due to take place on Friday May 27.

Irish Independent

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