Saturday 3 December 2016

Threat of all-out Luas strike looms as staff warned of payroll cut

Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 16/04/2016 | 02:30

Luas. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Luas. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Luas operator Transdev has warned its over 250-strong workforce that it will take them off the payroll from Monday week if they continue to engage in industrial action.

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In a confidential letter to staff, Transdev warned it would stop their wages after receiving notice of further strikes and the recommencement of a work -to-rule by drivers which starts tomorrow.

It means the disruptive row over pay is coming to a head and staff could yet vote for an all-out strike, bringing the Luas service to a complete halt.

The letter from HR Manager David Horgan says staff will not be able to return to work unless they are willing to carry out their full range of duties.

However, two strikes next Saturday and Sunday are set to go ahead.

Siptu last night said staff had not taken a decision on whether to hold a ballot on an all-out strike.

But it is now one of the options that is being considered in the long-running dispute over pay rises and working conditions.

There is a glimmer of hope that the dispute could be resolved after two groups of staff - ticket inspectors' supervisors and control room staff - organised a meeting with Transdev on its latest pay offer.

The offer of a 10pc pay rise is well below a Workplace Relations Commission deal that was rejected by staff which would have meant pay increases of up to 18pc. It is understood that the control room staff have called off a work-to-rule, which was due to begin this weekend.

However, tensions remain high with certain sections of staff following Transdev's letter.

It warns staff "from 25 April if you are not prepared to carry out the full range of duties required under your contract of employment" then staff could be put off duty and removed from the payroll.

It said the withdrawal of pay would begin immediately and would continue for the duration of the dispute - or until the workers informed Transdev they were willing to carry out their full duties.

The letter invites staff to put forward reasons why Transdev should not lay them off without pay, impose short-time working, reduce their pay or remove them from the payroll no later than next Wednesday.

In a response, Siptu said it will "not be found wanting" in defending its members if it carries out its threat to impose lay-offs or cut wages.

And a letter to the tram company's boss, Gerry Madden, sent yesterday, expressed "outrage" at the "tone and content" of a recent letter he sent Siptu.

It also says that members will not accept pay cuts if the company tries to recoup its losses due to industrial action and claims that these would be unlawful under the Payment of Wages Act.

The letter warns Mr Madden he does not have the right to give notice of lay-off or short-time working without the agreement of the union.

Siptu denies his claim that members were not carrying out "significant duties" that are an integral part of their contracts.

Siptu also says it does not accept that its members can be employed on a day-to-day basis or that lay-offs or short time working are necessitated.

"We therefore dispute your right, if any, to give notice of same," it says.

As well as next weekend's stoppages, strikes are due to take place on Thursday April 28, Wednesday May 4, Friday May 13, and Friday May 20.

A four-hour stoppage is due on Thursday May 26 and a 24-hour strike on May 27.

Irish Independent

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