Saturday 10 December 2016

Luas drivers plan strikes in protest over wages

Published 26/08/2015 | 02:30

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe at the commencement of the main Luas cross-city track-laying works on Dublin's O'Connell Street last month. Now the minister is facing widespread industrial unrest in the transport sector. Photo: Frank McGrath
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe at the commencement of the main Luas cross-city track-laying works on Dublin's O'Connell Street last month. Now the minister is facing widespread industrial unrest in the transport sector. Photo: Frank McGrath

Luas drivers are preparing to launch a wave of strike action in protest over their pay and conditions, the Irish Independent has learned.

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Workers are threatening to down tools in the coming weeks as anger grows over the lack of progress stemming from talks between their union, Siptu, and company management.

The drivers insist their pay has been "stagnant" in recent years and is now significantly below that of drivers across the public transport sector.

Workers have been meeting in private in recent weeks over the prospect of holding work stoppages before the end of the year.

But the prospect of strike action by over 200 Luas workers comes as the country's train drivers prepare to ballot amid an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions at the semi-state company, Irish Rail.

The National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) has said it is preparing for the prospect of balloting workers at Irish Rail from next month.

Both sets of workers share similar grievances with their respective managements and are seeking pay increases, as well as improvements in safety conditions.

The clear sense of discontent among the transport workers will prove deeply concerning for Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, who has faced a number of bitter disputes in his short time at the Department of Transport.

In relation to the escalating Luas dispute, unions and management are scheduled to hold talks on September 29 at the Labour Court.

However, well-placed sources last night warned that strike action now appears highly likely, given the level of anger being vented by Luas drivers over their pay and conditions.

"Workers appear to have made their minds up and are deeply sceptical of any deal being brokered at the Labour Court," said a source involved in the negotiations.

"There's no doubt morale is very low and that we are moving closer to downing tools."

Contacted last night, Siptu organiser Owen Reidy said all options, including industrial action, would be considered following the outcome of the Labour Court process.

"We are very much looking forward to the Labour Court hearing where we will put forward our claim for a pay increase for Luas workers," Mr Reidy said.

"If the outcome meets our members' aspirations, then well and good. If it falls short, then all other options will be looked at," he added.

In a statement, the firm said: "Transdev, Luas operator, and Siptu, who represent Luas drivers, are in ongoing discussions regarding terms and conditions. The next stage of the discussion is the Labour Court on September 29. Transdev is committed to the process and has engaged fully at all times with the drivers."

Irish Independent

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