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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Further strikes will 'wreck' the Luas - Transport Minister

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Photocall Ireland
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Photocall Ireland

Ryan Nugent and Anne Marie Walsh

THE Minister for Transport has warned that further strikes at the Luas will “wreck” the light rail network.

Speaking this morning, Paschal Donohoe also warned that everybody at last ditch talks to resolve the dispute over pay rises this week “has to have realistic expectations”.

SIPTU and Luas operator Transdev are due to meet on Wednesday following an invitation from the Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, last week.

The discussions follow two highly-disruptive 48-hour strikes that brought the red and green lines to a standstill.

Without an agreement, the industrial action will escalate to another strike on March 8, followed by a further 24-hour stoppage on St Patrick’s Day.

“The government has in place the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court that are organised and supported by the government to deal with industrial relations matters and on Friday morning the chairman of the WRC Mr Kieran Mulvey made clear his view in relation to the matter," said Mr Donohoe.

“I want to reiterate again that it is imperative that negotiations in relation to the approaching Luas strikes actually take place, but they have to take place on a realistic basis.

“Everybody has to have realistic expectations and demands as they go into the negotiations because continuation of these strikes will wreck the Luas, it will cause huge damage to our city, the commuters and to the Luas itself and it is in everybody’s interest now that discussions begin this week.”

He noted that staff have already forfeited a bonus payment worth up to €3,000 because they went on strike, under a clause in their collective agreement with their employer.

“Transdev have had a clause in place and a payment to its employees in relation to strikes not taking place,” he added.

“Clearly all of that has now been forfeited because of the four days of strikes that have occurred so the employees now are already losing even further money themselves on top of the wages they have lost because of the strikes occurring.”

He said the interests of commuters and taxpayers are best served by realistic negotiations to “secure” the future of Transdev’s five-year contract to operate the tram service.

Staff have demanded pay rises ranging from 8.5pc to 53.8pc and major improvements in working conditions, including free GP care and better paid overtime.

Transdev has said it will only consider wage increases between 1pc and 3pc.

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