Friday 30 September 2016

'We're not greedy,' insist striking Luas drivers on picket line

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30

Some 90,000 passengers were left without a tram service as the drivers held another one-day strike. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Some 90,000 passengers were left without a tram service as the drivers held another one-day strike. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Striking tram drivers strongly rejected claims they were being "greedy" in seeking bigger than normal pay rises and insisted their job was more than "just pushing a lever."

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Picketing Luas drivers stood outside the Red Cow Luas depot yesterday and claimed they were being "demonised."

Some 90,000 passengers were left without a tram service as the drivers held another one-day strike.

The strikers claimed there was a campaign being waged against them and their critics on social media were ill- informed about the stress endured by drivers.

"I feel we are being demonised by our own company as we do far more than just push a lever," said striking driver Eileen Carolan (52) from Kilpeddar, Co Wicklow.

"We transport thousands of passengers every day and it's a stressful job," she said.

"People who call us greedy b*****ds should think about us when we're starting our working day at 4am. We're being entirely reasonable in looking for decent pay for bringing 100 people at a time safely on their journeys," she said.

Dermot McMahon (45), a father-of-two from Harold's Cross, complained about insults levelled at tram drivers by "keyboard warriors" on social media.

Drivers had to work very difficult hours, sometimes finishing at midnight on a Sunday and having to begin a week of 5am starts just 29 hours later.

James Watson (49) from Drumcondra said their work rosters had different start times that were so erratic it had caused "marital problems" for a number of drivers that he knew.

The new cross-city tram service will entail longer trams with a consequent increase in responsibilities regarding the safety of more passengers, he said.

Drivers with long service are paid €42,750 a year while new drivers start at €32,000 a year.

Transdev's rejected pay offer of 18.5 pc over 33 months would have been partly financed by cutting the pay of recruit drivers to €29,000, said driver Tony Moore (50) from Drimnagh.

"That would be robbing Peter to pay Paul and was completely unfair," he said.

"We have safety concerns about driver fatigue.

"The company wants us to work longer shifts. But when the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe was in opposition he had told the Dáil that longer shifts would give rise to safety concerns," he added.

Driver John Dean said drivers were holding an evening meeting to plan a response to a company threat to cut strikers' pay by 10pc.

Dublin TD Paul Murphy arrived and joined the picketing drivers in walking in a circle outside the depot.

A number of members of the public living outside Dublin who expected to get on a tram at the Red Cow were dismayed to discover a strike in progress.

"It's scandalous. I'm bringing children home and we planned to use the Luas for some of the journey.

"We'll be hours late getting home," said Newbridge mother Joanne Murray (32).

"It's disgraceful. We were depending on the Luas today," said Portlaoise mother Louise McCormack (46).

Irish Independent

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