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Monday 23 January 2017

Ripple effect of Luas pay rise to be felt widely

Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 17/03/2016 | 02:30

The pay rises won in this high-profile dispute will be seen as a licence to look for them in workplaces elsewhere. Photo: PA
The pay rises won in this high-profile dispute will be seen as a licence to look for them in workplaces elsewhere. Photo: PA

Luas passengers have been watching the outcome of the red-eye talks to end the bitter 18-month row at the tram company with interest, but so have a lot of unions.

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The pay rises won in this high-profile dispute will be seen as a licence to look for them in workplaces elsewhere.

The knock-on will probably be felt first in the transport sector, at the CIE companies, where other workers have already pointed to "anomalies" between their own pay and the tram drivers'.

When details of the tram drivers' pay came to light early in this dispute, the National Bus and Railworkers' Union was quick off the mark to point out that bus drivers' wages were not looking so healthy in comparison.

It immediately sent a letter to Bus Éireann revising a pay claim already lodged seeking pay parity with Luas drivers. The Luas workforce, it said, was often described as the "poster boy of privatisation".

Bus Éireann staff, it said, were demonised for having the temerity to stand up for themselves in the face of wage cuts and did not get the Towards 2016 pay award. At the Luas, there were no wage cuts and Towards 2016 was paid.

Now that those drivers are getting a pay rise - of 6pc a year for three years - it is going to have a direct effect on that claim and others lodged at Irish Rail and Dublin Bus. The ripple effect will then be felt in other industries.

It is understood some officials at Siptu have already objected to the fact that they have been pursuing a policy of seeking moderate claims of around 3pc a year in other sectors when the union was prepared to sign off on a claim of up to 53.8pc over three years at the Luas.

When the well has run dry for a long time, the floodgates are bound to burst open.

Private sector pay rises such as that won by Luas drivers will also have an impact on public servants' demands. The Lansdowne Road deal, which refunded up to €2,000 each to State employees, does not end until 2018, but that will not stop them looking for more.

Irish Independent

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