Saturday 19 August 2017

Landmark 18pc wage hike for Luas drivers to fuel free-for-all

Wider pressure on pay will follow deal to end tram dispute

Commuters walking on the tracks during one of the Luas strike days Photo: Steve
Humphreys
Commuters walking on the tracks during one of the Luas strike days Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh

Workers stand to get bigger pay rises in the wake of the landmark 18pc increase over four years won by Luas drivers.

Drivers at the troubled tram company will get an annual wage hike of up to 4pc every year up to September 2020 following a four-month campaign of industrial action, and the first strike in the tram company's history.

This is double what employers expected to give workers this year, despite the fact that tram operator Transdev lost €700,000 last year.

Drivers yesterday voted in favour of a Labour Court recommendation that will boost their total earnings at the maximum end of the payscale from €42,247 to €49,972, and up to €53,220 when a 6.5pc bonus is included.

The pay rise is expected to fuel a 'free-for-all' as unions push for higher pay rises across all sectors and workers try to regain ground lost during the recession since the collapse of social partnership. The transport sector in particular is expected to become more militant, with the threat of industrial action on buses and trains if employers do not concede.

The National Bus and Railworkers Union is set to meet Dublin Bus at the Labour Court on June 30 on the back of the Luas claim - and union bosses have acknowledged that the tram saga "sets a marker".

The Labour Court made a link between the tram drivers' pay and that of public servants, which could be used to back up future claims in other workplaces.

"This is a significant victory for these workers but we believe this Labour Court recommendation, which is equivalent to 4pc a year, sets the marker for other workers and other members of Siptu, not just in the transport sector but across the commercial semi-State sector and private sector," said Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy.

"We believe workers can now go forward with confidence to seek to improve their conditions of employment and reclaim lost ground."

Overdue

The NBRU wants to bridge a gap of up to 31pc between bus and tram drivers, whose wages are often pegged at similar levels in other EU nations.

"We are before the Labour Court on June 30 with Dublin Bus to seek significant and long overdue pay rises for our members," said general secretary Dermot O'Leary.

"It is our intention to make the case that Dublin Bus should pay increases at least in line with those recommended by the Labour Court at Transdev given that it is back in the profit-making space, unlike Transdev."

The general secretary of retail union Mandate said the pay deal would not go unnoticed among unions. "There have always been leaders who set the pace," said John Douglas. "It used to be the ESB and big manufacturers. There is an expectation among workers that wages are starting to increase."

Surveys by IBEC and Mercer predict the average increase this year will be 2pc, although workers in technology will fare better. A recent deal at the ESB would mean an increase of 5.5pc over two-and-a-half years, or 2pc a year. However, when a €2,750 lump sum is added in it equals over 4pc.

TEEU leader Eamon Devoy said it had just reached a deal for 10,000 electricians for 5pc over 10 months from July 1 and a 10pc deal for plumbers and pipefitters worth 10pc over 27 months.

Irish Independent

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