Breakthrough in Luas row as drivers agree to pay talks
Hopes that the long-running Luas dispute may soon reach the end of the line have been fuelled after drivers agreed to talks.
They are set to meet their employer Transdev to discuss a new pay deal that would mean they get a 10pc pay rise.
Drivers agreed to call off a 48-hour strike this weekend but had remained outside talks that kicked off with their colleagues yesterday.
Their decision to attend talks comes after Transdev put the workforce of more than 250 staff on protective notice.
It threatened to take them off the payroll from next Monday if they refused to carry out their duties during a work-to-rule or work stoppages.
It also threatened to cut their pay to recoup its losses due to industrial action.
But the breakthrough in the Luas dispute came as a row over a more frequent Dart service deepened. Irish Rail has threatened High Court action against two unions after 23 drivers refused to train recruits.
Welcoming the new development at Luas, Transdev managing director Gerry Madden said his negotiating team had a "positive engagement" with three of the four grades represented by Siptu.
"Further meetings are planned over the next 24 to 48 hours," he said. "In relation to the driver grade, the parties are working to agree a mutually convenient date."
Transdev met revenue protection officers, revenue protection supervisors and traffic supervisors to discuss a watered-down proposal for a pay increase of 10pc over 33 months.
The offer is lower than the 18pc proposed at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Siptu recommended the deal but staff rejected it by almost 100pc. The new package tabled by Transdev does not include a long-service increment worth over 7pc and arbitration on a bonus due this year.
The company extended a deadline of last Sunday for staff to accept its revised offer to enable talks to take place after being approached by the three grades.
It said the revised offer was worse than the WRC package to take account of financial losses due to industrial action.
Meanwhile, Irish Rail said it threatened legal action against the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) and Siptu because illegal unofficial industrial action was taking place.
The NBRU denied it organised the action and insisted that drivers were not obliged to participate in training. It accused Irish Rail of "skulduggery".
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said 23 drivers refused to allow eight trainees into their cabs to observe them driving the trains. Mr Kenny said training newcomers was part of the drivers' contract, and it was only voluntary at a later stage where an allowance was paid to drivers to mentor trainees.
"Irish Rail needs to be able to progress this service," he said. "There are options open to us including legal options."