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Thursday 22 February 2018

Luas strike is now 'inevitable'

No last-ditch talks planned as stoppages to hit 1916 events

Photo: Caroline Quinn
Photo: Caroline Quinn
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A hugely disruptive Luas strike will impinge on 1916 commemorations, with no last-minute talks planned to stave off the stoppage.

Striking drivers are set to bring the light rail system to a 48-hour standstill tomorrow, as the city swells with visitors for the Rising commemorations.

Despite up to a million spectators pouring into Dublin this weekend, Luas drivers will mount pickets from 4am - halting the service on one of the busiest weekends the capital has ever seen.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday called for the strike for the centenary events and beyond to be called off.

"For me, the priority now is the commemorative period, and the uniqueness of this period is understood, I know, by everyone in the trade union movement - so they need to reflect on that and lead to the reinstatement of these services," said Mr Donohoe.

He warned that the Luas service had become plagued with the threat of "indefinite strikes into the future" after workers rejected a pay deal this week.

But while Siptu president Jack O'Connor said he was available for talks to avert the strike if management contacted him, that had yet to happen.

Drivers belonging to the trade union last night remained committed to proceeding with the strike, which will continue next Saturday and Sunday, as well as on April 23 and 24.

They balloted against an 18pc pay increase over three years and other concessions in a proposed deal brokered at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Siptu organiser Owen Reidy said the series of strikes would go ahead and vowed that "history will keep repeating itself", as drivers were committed to the action.

"It seems inevitable the action is going to go ahead," he said last night.

"The drivers are in this for the long haul. They believe the company can improve the offer."

Meanwhile, Transdev's managing director Gerry Madden has warned that the industrial action "has serious implications for the company and our staff".

The company has stated that it faces penalties under its contractual agreement with Transport Infrastructure Ireland of €100,000 a day if it is unable to provide the service.

This is on top of whatever fares are forfeited each day that the strike goes ahead.

Transdev could not provide a breakdown of how much revenue it typically generates through fares on any given day.

However, the latest Companies Office returns show that revenues generated by Transdev plunged by 15pc to €48.8m in 2014, while pre-tax profits plunged by more than a third to €872,270 in the same year.

Mr Madden has warned that the WRC proposal "was at the very outer limits of what we could afford".

A Transdev spokeswoman also said that the implications of the strike were very serious.

"With each strike, it further erodes the company's ability to reach a resolution with staff," she said. "Also, with each strike, 90,000 customers are affected and business is affected in the city."

Luas drivers have mounted two 48-hour strikes already this year.

Irish Independent

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