Saturday 21 July 2018

Luas dispute: Kieran Mulvey has no intention to step down after SIPTU boss calls for his resignation

Kieran Mulvey, chair of the WRC (left) and Jack O'Connor, SIPTU president
Kieran Mulvey, chair of the WRC (left) and Jack O'Connor, SIPTU president Newsdesk Newsdesk

Kieran Mulvey has said he has no intention of stepping down after SIPTU boss Jack O'Connor called for his resignation after an RTE Radio One interview this morning.

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) chair Kieran Mulvey said he could see no reason as to why he should resign following his interview on the ongoing Luas dispute.

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) chair Kieran Mulvey told the Morning Ireland programme this morning he thought it was "extraordinary" that SIPTU had not been in contact with him as the Luas service is set for another two-day strike starting tomorrow.

He also said a five-day Luas service might be an option.

"We might have to live with a five-day Luas, that's what it is at the moment. This week it's a four-day Luas. We need leadership and judgment... the proposals of the commission are considerable."

He continued: "Most union officials and most union members, if they got those kind of proposals, would go back to their members and receive a standing ovation.

Kieran Mulvey Photo: Tom Burke
Kieran Mulvey Photo: Tom Burke

"Our services are available, but not to be abused," he added.

Mr Mulvey's interview was soon followed up by a statement issued to the national broadcaster from SIPTU boss Jack O'Connor calling for the resignation of the WRC director.

SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor
SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor

In a statement, Mr O'Connor said Mr Mulvey "demonstrated bias against the unions".

The interview sparked a huge reaction and debate on social media.

Mr O’Connor appeared on the programme shortly after and immediately called on Mr Mulvey to resign, claiming that the comments he made this morning jeopardised his credibility as a mediator.

“It’s simply not credible for someone in that position of responsibility to come out and attack one of the parties in the industrial dispute, to attack workers in the way that he has and still remain credible as a mediator,” he said.

He continued by arguing that Mr Mulvey had “indulged himself”, adding: “Whoever (holds that position) must remain detached, unbiased and neutral. Kieran Mulvey, by virtue of his interview this morning, has discredited himself and the whole institution that he heads up.

“I mean nothing personal against him, but he has arrived at a time where it is appropriate to depart the stage.”

When presenter Fran McNulty pushed Mr O'Connor on why he hadn't reached out to Mr Mulvey to discuss his own concerns, Mr O'Connor said: “I did what I should have done, I left it to the people who were dealing with the dispute to handle it, who know the minutiae of it.

“That’s what Kieran Mulvey should have done as well, and stayed off the airwaves to preserve his own integrity as a mediator and the institution he represents.

“Instead, he attacked the Luas workers and he attacked the union, and if he felt like that, Kieran Mulvey has my number, and he could have called me at any time to let me know what his concerns were.”

Mr O’Connor concluded by calling on the acting Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe to intervene, and argued that the WRC had “no further function as a mediator”.

“I don’t see that, under Mr Mulvey’s leadership, the WRC has any further role to play in this particular dispute,” he said.

The morning interviews come as chief executive officer of Transdev UK and Ireland Nigel Stevens warned Luas workers that cuts will be imposed in the company if the current series of strikes continues.

He issued an open letter to staff as a further two-day strike gets under way this weekend.

Mr Stevens stated that he visited "key stakeholders" in Dublin this week. He returned to the UK yesterday.

The Siptu union expressed dismay that Mr Stevens did not meet workers or union representatives and called on him to withdraw his threat of cutbacks.

Workers had voted to reject a pay rise brokered by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), which would have meant rises between 8pc and 18pc within less than three years.

"Transdev will not stand idly by while our already challenging financial position, which has been independently verified, is further eroded," stated Mr Stevens in his letter.

"We are resolute that the current demands are untenable and will not be countenanced regardless of the nature and extent of industrial action that is notified to us," he said.

In a veiled warning that appeared to hint at job cuts, he declared that, if workers continued with strikes, the company would "take action in relation to our operating costs to protect our financial position".

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