Monday 23 October 2017

Luas strike talks begin as sides aim to bridge gap over 50pc pay increase demand

Disruption: Commuters walking on the Luas line.
Disruption: Commuters walking on the Luas line.

Anne-Marie Walsh

A massive pay gap of over 50pc has to be bridged at talks today to halt disruptive Luas strikes on St Patrick’s Day and the Easter weekend.

Drivers have demanded wage hikes of up to 53.8pc but their employer Transdev has only been willing to offer up to 3pc.

Both sides remained tight-lipped about the room for compromise as they entered talks to avert further industrial action at the Workplace Relations Commission this morning.

Rumours have been circulating at the Luas depots that the Siptu representatives will push for maximum pay hikes between 20pc and 35pc.

Despite the pay claims that were lodged with the employer, ranging from 8.5pc to 53.8pc for four grades of staff, the union had said that it did not expect to get its maximum demands.

However, it will want to get an increase it can sell to staff, and make good the losses to staff due to industrial action.

The strikes have already cost them four days pay as well as a bonus between €2,500 and €3,000, which is conditional on industrial peace.

The workforce of over 250 staff called off a 24-hour strike tomorrow to allow the talks, hosted by state mediator Kieran Mulvey, to have a chance of success.

But further industrial action looms after the union served notice of a 24-hour strike on St Patrick’s Day and a 48-hour work stoppage on Easter Sunday and Monday.

Transdev has suffered losses in the region of €400,000 since the strikes began, as well as penalties due to delays as a result of a work-to-rule.

Talks were due to begin at the end of last month, but collapsed before they began.

Transdev refused to hold discussions as it claimed unofficial industrial action was taking place.

It said there had been an unprecedented increase in drivers taking toilet breaks.

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