Monday 25 September 2017

'Grave concern' at mood in Luas after strike row

Drivers recently balloted on the court’s recommendation, which would mean pay rises between 15.6pc and 18.3pc over the next four years. Photo: PA
Drivers recently balloted on the court’s recommendation, which would mean pay rises between 15.6pc and 18.3pc over the next four years. Photo: PA

Anne Marie Walsh

The Labour Court has urged the operator of the Luas and its drivers to take a form of industrial relations counselling, as it expressed "grave concern" at the state of their relationship.

In its recommendation to end the dispute that has caused 12 strikes, the court urged Transdev and the drivers to seek the services of a trouble-shooting body to deal with the fallout.

Drivers recently balloted on the court's recommendation, which would mean pay rises between 15.6pc and 18.3pc over the next four years.

This would bring their total earnings at the maximum of the scale from €42,247 to €49,972 by September 2020, and €53,220 when a 6.5pc bonus is included.

Although the deal is similar to a previous one for an 18pc pay rise that was rejected by the drivers, it includes a number of improvements.

Hardship

Chairman of the Labour Court Kevin Duffy said that Siptu's industrial action, including intermittent work stoppages, caused "hardship" to the public who regularly use the Luas.

He said it had become clear to the court that the parties had become entrenched in their positions and the court was "convinced that neither party can realistically hope to achieve a settlement of the dispute on all of the terms to which they now aspire, no matter how fervently they believe that their current position is justifiable".

Mr Duffy said the only basis on which a settlement could be found lay in a fair compromise.

He urged the drivers to "put the events of the past number of months behind them and to work in partnership with management in restoring normality.

"There is cause for grave concern at the fractious nature of the relationship between management and those who are party to this dispute, which became manifest in the course of this investigation," he wrote in the recommendation.

Mr Duffy added: "It is clear that considerable effort will be required to restore normal working relations within the employment."

The court also noted that the drivers believed their pay was out of line with comparable workers in other European countries.

It said this should be "properly tested" and an independent specialist should be appointed within 18 months to investigate.

It added that any "anomaly" should be taken into account in talks on future agreements.

Irish Independent

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