Saturday 24 February 2018

Luas drivers to strike on Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday - and DART drivers vote to strike too

Luas drivers are set to strike
Luas drivers are set to strike
Commuters walking along the Luas tracks at Ranelagh following strike. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh

LUAS drivers are set to hold two strikes over the Easter weekend, as well as next Tuesday and St Patrick’s Day.

Transdev has said that SIPTU today sanctioned work stoppages on Easter Sunday and Monday.

The Luas operator said it is “extremely disappointed” with the union and drivers.

It said it “shows a total disrespect to all those who wish to mark the 1916 commemorations”.

 Transdev said the union deliberately chose to stop the Luas on three key dates, in addition to earlier stoppages on February 11 and 12 and February 18 and 19.

Read More: Commuters still facing disruption despite 'useful' talks in Luas dispute

“SIPTU is not just threatening the company with its unrealistic pay claims but is now prepared to jeopardise the Irish economy and Irish jobs,” said Transdev Managing Director, Gerry Madden. “The state has made great plans for the centenary of 1916 and transport is a vital part of those plans”.

Talks to end the row over pay rises between 8.5pc and 53.8pc and better working conditions were called off last week.

Transdev objected to the discussions because it said drivers were engaged in unofficial action by taking an unprecedented number of toilet breaks.

Read More: Talks to halt Luas strikes in jeopardy after discussions called off due to 'unofficial action'

It said the unofficial action had stopped, so it was deeply regrettable that notice of the Easter strikes had been served.

The company said it appears more of an “escalation” than a willingness to engage in meaningful talks.

Transdev said the notice had come from drivers and it credited its Revenue Protection team for withdrawing from a work-to-rule “with immediate effect”.

Siptu official Willie Noone said drivers felt they had no option but to serve notice of the strikes because talks due to take place at the Workplace Relations Commission did not take place.

He confirmed that only drivers had served notice of industrial action at Easter.

“Drivers were not taking part in unofficial action, and felt they were demonised by the company,” he said. “The delays in service were due to the official work-to-rule.”

He said there appeared to be an increase in toilet breaks because they were only recorded when there was a delay in service.

Mr Noone said drivers have to give 21 days notice of industrial action under their collective agreement with their employer.

“If they went into talks today and they broke down after two or three weeks because there was no progress, they would have to give another 21 days notice,” he said. “They have consistently said they will take action every seven to 10 days.”

Meanwhile, DART drivers, represented by Siptu, have backed strike action if Irish Rail forges ahead with plans to introduce a 10 minute service from April 10.

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