Thursday 23 February 2017

Luas strike: St Patrick's Day bus service is 'exceptional fall-back measure'

Sasha Brady

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

Outgoing Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe has addressed the decision by Luas operator Transdev to hire private buses during industrial action on St Patrick's Day.

Mr Donohoe said the special St Patrick's day bus service to beat the strike action is an "exceptional fall-back measure for the country's national holiday".

Speaking on RTE's The Week In Politics programme, Mr Donohoe called for action to be taken to ensure that a future backup service is not needed.

He said that it is a "matter for Transdev" but that he hopes normal Luas services will resume on Thursday.

Mr Donohoe added that three of the four grades of staff at Luas were still engaged in talks with management at the Workplace Relations Commission.

SIPTU has called the move "provocative" while the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said it will support Luas workers "in opposing the use of scab labour" to break a legitimate strike.

Mr Donohoe had earlier said that Transdev’s plans were an "effort to deliver a level of service to the travelling public on our national holiday".

NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said it was a major departure from the code used during disputes and he said it was a "Thatcherite" policy similar to tactics used during the miners' strikes in the UK.

Luas drivers are still set to go on strike on March 17 despite their employers' bid to broker a deal with three grades of staff.

Strike action is already planned for Easter Sunday and Easter Monday in addition to St Patrick's Day. 

Transdev's special bus services on St Patrick's Day will run from Luas park-and-ride stops to and from the city centre from 7.30am to 7pm, every 10 minutes. It said passengers, particularly families, should allow extra time to travel to and from the parade.

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