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Saturday 18 November 2017

All-out Luas strike on the cards as talks fail

Bizarre: Siptu’s Willie Noone. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Bizarre: Siptu’s Willie Noone. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins

Anne-Marie Walsh and Breda Heffernan

Luas drivers are to meet in the coming days to ballot for an all-out strike that could bring the tram network to a complete halt.

It came as talks between their union Siptu and Luas operator Transdev broke down last night, with management saying a scaled-back pay claim by drivers of between 25pc and 35pc still did not provide any "realistic basis" for negotiations.

While it could take up to a month before an all-out strike starts - as drivers would have to be balloted and then serve a 21-day strike notice - in the interim they may decide to ramp up their work-to-rule.

While a work stoppage due to take place today was called off ahead of the talks, a 24-hour strike on St Patrick's Day and another 48-hour strike on Easter Sunday and Monday now look set to go ahead.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Siptu's Willie Noone said drivers found it "bizarre" that, after revising down their 53pc pay claim and calling off today's strike and their work-to-rule, that the "company decided they wouldn't even engage" in the talks.

"We always said the 53pc claim was over a five-year term and that was radically changed. To show good faith it was cut in half." He said union representatives would now meet members to consider "all-out strike action".

However, while talks with drivers broke down, discussions will proceed on Friday in relation to 3-4pc pay claims by two other Luas groups - revenue protection officers and the supervisory grade.

In a statement released following the ending of talks at the Workplace Relations Commission last night, Transdev said that while the revised position put forward by these two groups was still "significantly beyond the company position (it) does provide a basis for further discussion".

However, in relation to drivers, the company said: "The 'bottom line' positions put forward by drivers and traffic supervisors do not provide any realistic basis for negotiations."

Transdev said it was willing to offer pay increases only of up to 3pc.

The pay claim lodged by Siptu ahead of the strikes was for increases ranging from 8.5pc to 53.8pc, for 16 traffic supervisors, eight revenue protection supervisors, 37 revenue protection officers, and 172 tram drivers. However, early on it admitted it did not expect to achieve its maximum demands. It revised down the maximum pay rises to between 25pc and 35pc.

It is understood that, over the course of five years, a 30pc pay rise for drivers, on a current salary of €42,000, would equate to an extra €12,600. But they are also believed to be seeking a 10pc bonus, taking their final salary at the end of the five-year period to just over €60,000.

Irish Independent

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