Friday 23 March 2018

Luas strike called off in 'goodwill' gesture

Tram drivers seek meeting with the Transport Minister

Siptu official Owen Reidy
Siptu official Owen Reidy

Anne-Marie Walsh

Luas passengers will be able to use the tram service this weekend after drivers cancelled a 48-hour strike as a gesture of "goodwill".

Transdev's 172 drivers have called off work stoppages on Saturday and Sunday "to try and create space for talks" with the company.

Their colleagues, ticket inspectors, their supervisors and control room staff, will meet with the company today to discuss a new pay proposal. However, the drivers have still not agreed to enter talks on a revised pay package.

The pay deal would mean all staff get a wage hike of 10pc over 33 months.

The drivers have sought a meeting with the acting Transport Minister, Paschal Donohoe. Their colleagues asked Transdev for a meeting to seek clarification on its pay proposal after it put them on protective notice. It threatened to start taking them off the payroll by a deadline next Monday if they refused to carry out their full duties.

The tram operator also warned that it might begin to recoup its losses due to industrial action by cutting their wages.

The threats came after the company received notice of further strikes and work-to-rule action. Drivers restarted a campaign of non-cooperation last weekend. It involves a ban on overtime and a refusal to swap shifts, carry out inter-depot transfers, and strict adherence to rosters, finish and break times.

In addition, drivers will not answer their employer's phone calls and texts outside their working hours.

"Drivers have unconditionally agreed to cancel this weekend's strikes to demonstrate their goodwill and bona fides in trying to resolve the dispute," said Siptu official Owen Reidy.

When asked why they refused to do this during the 1916 commemoration weekend, he said that was "in the past". "It's about trying to reach an agreement in the time ahead," he said.

The decision to call off the strike will be good news for people planning to attend the GAA's 1916 commemoration event in Croke Park on Sunday.

Transdev extended a deadline for its pay offer, which was due to be taken off the table last Sunday, to enable discussions to take place after being contacted by the ticket inspectors and control room staff.

Its proposal for a 10pc pay rise is worse than a Workplace Relations Commission package for pay rises up to 18pc, which staff rejected by almost 100pc.

It does not include a long service increment worth over 7pc and arbitration on a bonus that was due this year.

Transdev welcomed the cancellation of the strikes and said it would write to Siptu to see if there was a basis for renewed talks with the drivers. It confirmed that it would meet with the other three grades to discuss its 10pc pay rise proposal today, and "ways to find a lasting resolution to this ongoing dispute".

In a letter to Mr Donohoe, sent yesterday, Mr Reidy said the drivers were not asking him to intervene in the dispute or discuss their claims. "We are, however, seeking a meeting with you so that you can better understand our concerns surrounding the dispute," he said.

Siptu will hold a meeting with staff in Liberty Hall tomorrow and Thursday to discuss the revised pay proposal. Further strikes are still planned for later this month and next month.

Meanwhile, Irish Rail has threatened the National Bus and Rail Workers' Union (NBRU) and Siptu with legal action, after DART drivers with the unions refused to train new staff.

The company's director of human resources Ciaran Masterson warned the NBRU that failure to halt the action could result in High Court legal proceedings. In response, General secretary of the NBRU, Dermot O'Leary, said the Irish Rail had "reached a new low".

Irish Independent

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