Luas drivers announce six more days of strike action over pay dispute
All Dublin-area commuters face more transport chaos this month and next after Luas drivers vowed to ramp up their ongoing strike action.
Trams will grind to a halt on six weekdays later this month and in May, on top of a two-day strike set for April 23 and 24.
The latest strike notice comes on the same day that Luas operator Transdev invited members of the Siptu trade union to talks on April 11 yesterday.
"Next we received strike notice," a Transdev spokesperson told the Irish Independent last night.
The work stoppage includes five 24-hour strikes taking place on April 28, May 4, May 13, May 20 and May 27 and a four-hour strike during the evening rush-hour between 3pm and 7pm on May 26.
This escalation comes in addition to the two-day strike set for April 23 and 24.
An "indefinite" work to rule campaign will also commence on April 17, in which drivers can down tools in order to take their breaks or end their shifts.
And it's not just 90,000 Luas passengers a day who will be affected by the strike, but "everyone in the city", according to AA Ireland spokesman Conor Faughnan.
"The proposed further strike action will magnify the consequences for the travelling public," he said.
"It will make traffic worse and put pressure on other forms of public transportation."
Transdev Managing Director Gerry Madden said the company is "deeply disappointed by today's decision".
The strike action will cost the operator around €100,000 a day in fines for each day the service is not running.
That's on top of being fined €800,000 when Luas drivers went on strike for eight days, including last weekend, over the Easter weekend and in February.
"Today's strike notice shows a continuing blatant disregard by Siptu for Luas customers and the travelling public," Mr Madden said.
"These latest strikes are clearly designed to cause maximum customer disruption.
He said Transdev is "prepared to enter into negotiations to deliver a fair and balanced agreement that is fully in line with current norms in the private and public sector, with essential cost offsetting measures."
"Unfortunately, the demands of staff go way beyond this. They are totally unaffordable and cannot be met," Mr Madden added.
Owen Reidy, Siptu negotiator, said: "The reason we did this and gave such lengthy notice is to create the space and opportunity for talks in the hope that strikes won't have to happen."
But the union representative said there had been no contact from industrial relations mediators at the Workplace Relations Commission since talks broke down before Easter.
Mr Reidy described relations between workers and management as fraught.