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Saturday 10 December 2016

Commuters vent their anger as further Luas strikes are planned

Jane O'Faherty

Published 04/04/2016 | 11:43

Photo: Caroline Quinn
Photo: Caroline Quinn
Jessica Skelton
Alan O'Keeffe
Keith Fay
Rachel Lally, from Prosperous, Kildare. Luas strike vox pop. Abbey Street upper, Dublin
Christina Furlong,
Rachel O'Keeffe

Another weekend of traffic disruption is on the cards as further strikes by Luas drivers are looming in April.

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Commuters were left to vent their fury as there appears to be no solution in sight.

The service interruption last Easter Saturday and Sunday was the latest downing of tools in a long-running dispute between drivers and management.

Drivers took to tram lines to picket over the weekend, in what has become an increasingly fraught conflict.

The next strike, on the weekend of April 24, will coincide with the actual calendar centenary of the 1916 Rising.

Last weekend's 48-hour stoppage came as talks ended in deadlock with no clear indication if the continuing industrial action will end soon.

Commuters have their say:

Alan O'Keeffe: "The worrying thing is you don't know how long it's going to go on for. It's been going on well over a month now."

Jessica Skelton: "My parents live in Tallaght, and the closest stop to them would be Kingswood. It was very annoying trying to organise getting home on Easter Sunday."

Keith Fay: "From what I see, nobody really supports them [the drivers] or stands by them."

Christina Furlong: "I don't even get the Luas, but when the strike is on, you could be waiting 40 minutes for a 39A that should come every ten minutes."

Rachel Lally: "I hope it encourages other people to strike for better standards and pay. I don't think many people's pay is in line with the cost of living."

Meanwhile, head of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Kieran Mulvey rejected a claim that he was biased against Siptu

The union's President, Jack O'Connor, had called for Mr Mulvey's resignation.

Over the weekend, Fianna Fail's transport spokesperson Timmy Dooley called for a special independent taskforce to help resolve the Luas dispute.

"A similar task force was put in place to help resolve the Dublin Bus dispute in 2013," he said.

"At that time the group played a key role in bridging the divide between management and unions."

"No one wants this conflict to rumble on for weeks on end," he added. "Action is needed to break the impasse between management and unions."

Mr Dooley said he had also written to Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, asking him to establish such a taskforce "without further delay".

Last week, Luas workers overwhelmingly rejected a deal brokered by the WRC, which proposed a pay rise of up to 18pc over three years.

However, Eoin Ready of Siptu said he remained hopeful that a solution could be reached with further negotiation.

"I hope there's a bit of space and opportunity where ourselves and Transdev can re- engage," he told 98FM.

"If there's to be an agreement that both sides can ultimately live with, it can only happen through dialogue and discussion, and that's something we need to occur," he added.

Spokespeople from both Siptu and Transdev said no further negotiation had taken place over the weekend.

Two more days of strikes have been confirmed on the weekend of April 23 and 24.

Herald

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