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Monday 19 March 2018

Luas operator suspends drivers from sick pay scheme

Photo: Caroline Quinn
Photo: Caroline Quinn
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

ALL Luas drivers – excluding those who are critically ill or can prove there are “genuinely sick” – will not be paid sick leave this month or into the foreseeable future after their absentee rates increased almost threefold during the current labour dispute with tram operator Transdev.

Noting “there’s no doubt about it that sick leave has increased dramatically since the start of the industrial action,” a Transdev spokeperson confirmed that all Luas drivers aside from those who can prove a medical issue will not get sick pay until “absence rates return to normal.”

In a letter to the trade union Siptu representing Luas drivers and other grades, Transdev Managing Director Gerry Madden said the company is invoking its right “under our agreement” to “suspend individuals from the regular Sick Pay Scheme in its entirety or as otherwise stated.”

He claimed the move is necessary because “this level of absence is imposing significant additional costs on the company and is highly disruptive to our customers.”

The letter, a copy of which was seen by, claimed that the absence rate for drivers is “currently running at approximately 12pc”.

“This compares to an absence figure for drivers of approximately 4.5pc for 2015,” Mr Madden stated.

The letter also says that “in excess of 10pc of this absence is attributable to the Regular Sick Pay scheme.”

Mr Madden said that under the company’s agreement with the union, “if the level (of absence)  goes above 4pc, ” management can suspend workers from the regular Sick Pay Scheme.”

Consequently, all drivers have been suspended from the regular Sick Pay Benefit Scheme and any sick benefit payments that were due to be paid this month and “thereafter pending a return to normal absence levels” will not be processed.

However, a Transdev spokesperson said that drivers who have “a genuine sickness will have their cases reviewed by HR on a case-by-case basis.”

Staff who are “suffering from a critical illness (as normally defined by the medical profession) and as may be determined by the company doctor,” will also not be affected, according to the letter.

The company will discuss re-introducing the scheme “once absence rates for drivers return to normal levels,” Mr Madden said, adding: “we regret having to take this course of action but the current absence levels are clearly untenable by any objective standard.”

Siptu organiser Owen Reidy was not readily available for comment this afternoon.

However, the move comes after Siptu recently announced more industrial action, including partial work stoppages, this month and next after 90,000 passengers were left without service during Luas strike action on Friday.

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