Marathon talks ongoing in last-ditch bid to avert St Patrick's Day Luas strike
Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30
There is still no breakthrough in talks to halt another disruptive strike on St Patrick's Day tomorrow.
Luas drivers have been asked to call off the industrial action as State mediator Kieran Mulvey heads a last-minute bid to broker a deal on their pay.
The talks - which have continued right through the night at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) - are reported to be at a 'critical' stage.
Sources said Transdev's threat of a special bus service to ferry tourists into the city had "concentrated minds" to try to negotiate a deal.
The National Bus and Railworkers' Union branded the move to bring in private buses to carry commuters as "strikebreaking" and "scab labour".
Transdev has since promised to cancel the bus service to allow progress at talks to end the dispute at the WRC.
But a major compromise will have to be reached to reconcile drivers' revised demand for an annual 5pc to 6pc increase over five years plus a 10pc bonus, with Transdev's offer of pay rises between 1pc and 3pc.
Siptu official Owen Reidy said everything possible would be done to reach agreement, but the strikes would be called off only if a deal was done.
Transdev managing director Gerry Madden said both sides in the dispute were on a "journey" that might take weeks instead of days.
"What I would love them (the drivers) to do, and I think it would be more important for them than for anybody, is to call off or set aside the strike for St Patrick's Day," he said yesterday.
"It would be wonderful. That would be my plea today."
He said the drivers were probably very alert to the fact that they would need to substantially modify their claim further before they were likely to get a deal.
"It's not down to the wire yet," said a source. "But I think the threat of the bus service helped to concentrate minds.
"Hopefully, there will be an announcement today that there is enough progress made to call off the St Patrick's Day action."