€42k Luas drivers seeking 40pc pay increase
Luas drivers are seeking a pay increase of up to 40pc to bring their wages in line with those of Irish Rail train drivers.
Luas drivers can currently earn in the region of €42,000 per annum - in contrast to average earnings of €60,000 for an Iarnród Éireann driver who has a slightly longer working week.
Other staff at Luas are also pursuing pay rises.
Luas drivers are also concerned the cross-city service, expected to begin in late 2017, would lead to an extension of their working hours.
The service - which includes the construction of eight new stops - will extend the current Luas Green line connecting it with the Luas Red line. The expansion is expected to add an extra 10 million passenger journeys per year on the Luas system.
However, a spokesperson for operating company Transdev said the company could not afford the proposed increase, and was on course for a loss this year.
Luas employs 172 drivers and they are represented by Siptu. The union has warned that if a satisfactory outcome does not emerge from the Labour Court process, they will ballot members for industrial action. They must serve 21 days' notice on the company before resorting to this option.
The claim has already been before an internal tribunal with no resolution found.
If the claim were to succeed, the company says operating costs would increase by €6m per annum.
While Luas drivers' salaries are significantly lower than those of DART suburban or Irish Rail mainline drivers, their earnings compare favourably with pay rates for 4,000 Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann drivers.
In addition, the Luas drivers did not experience the cuts in pay and conditions suffered by CIÉ group employees during the economic crisis.
The Luas drivers also received the full 6pc due under the last national wage agreement, which was never paid to CIÉ employees.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy said if a breakthrough wasn't reached, then industrial action may be on the cards.
"Our guys are saying the company hasn't really engaged meaningfully on pay," said Mr Reidy. "We're now going to decide on the next steps. But ultimately we need to get in and out of the Labour Court with a recommendation, so the wider membership can consider where we're at, because we've been at this for some time.
"We'll then ballot our members on a Labour Court recommendation.
"If our members accept it, then that's the end of the issue - but if, for whatever reason, they don't accept it - then we'll have a vote for industrial action. But we'll exhaust all the procedures before that stage is reached."