Saturday 1 October 2016

The time for action is coming and unions are preparing

Published 26/08/2015 | 02:30

'Luas staff have now also decided that enough is enough'
'Luas staff have now also decided that enough is enough'

It's no coincidence the threats of strike action by two different sets of transport workers have entered the public arena during the same fortnight.

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Enthused by the reaction received by their colleagues in Irish Rail following their warning of work stoppages, Luas staff have now also decided that enough is enough.

Make no mistake about it - the anger and frustration among both Irish Rail and Transdev drivers has been building for some time. But for many, it has now reached fever pitch.

Morale is low because pay has been cut or kept stagnant over a lengthy period. Drivers point to the higher wages enjoyed by their counterparts in other European countries and wonder why they should be treated any differently.

Relations with both respective senior managements are fractious and issues of staff safety are of constant concern, according to workers and union officials who have spoken to the Irish Independent in recent days.

Therefore, it is only right that the public, who are the main stakeholders in our transport system, are made fully aware of the events on the horizon and their potential consequences.

As unions representing all workers prepare for last-ditch concilitatory talks using the State's highly effective industrial relations machinery, the prospect of strike action being averted is, of course, achievable.

But privately, disgruntled workers are edging ever closer to the point of downing tools. Back-to-back work stoppages later this year will obviously cause transport chaos for commuters and families.

These decisions will not be taken likely, workers say, because any move that discommodes the public must be a last resort. But it is a course of action that workers are serious about taking.

"Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in," one source involved in the negotiations remarked last night.

The source was, of course, borrowing the phrase coined by Napoleon, the military and political leader who shot to prominence during the French Revolution.

With a general election expected in the spring at the very latest, Coalition figures - especially Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe - will be hoping that the union leaders will draw their motiviation from elsewhere.

Irish Independent

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