Monday 11 December 2017

Luas workers set to reject 'provocative' new 10pc pay offer

Commuters walk on the Luas line during one of the recent strikes, of which more are planned by drivers. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Commuters walk on the Luas line during one of the recent strikes, of which more are planned by drivers. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh

The prospect of an end to the bitter Luas dispute has grown even dimmer as workers are set to reject a new pay offer tabled by their employer.

Siptu described the offer of a wage increase of 10pc as "provocative" as it is lower than a package that contained increases up to 18pc that they have already rejected.

Luas operator Transdev has given its over 250-strong workforce until Sunday to accept the offer, or it will be taken off the table.

Siptu official Owen Reidy said there was "no way" the pay package, which would be paid in four instalments up to January 2019, was going to be accepted.

"I think it is provocative of the company to put forward a deal that is less than one that has already been rejected.

"There is no way that the lads are going to accept an inferior proposal when they rejected a better one by 99pc. We are going to sit down with them on Friday and have a good chat about the letter (which contained the offer) and see where we're at and what they want to do. Transdev CEO Gerry Madden's letter threatened people with their livelihoods, but there will be no knee-jerk reaction."

The union has warned that the workers are considering an all-out strike after Transdev put them on protective notice, which could mean lay-offs or short-term working. Indefinite strikes could begin in five weeks' time.

Transdev has also threatened to recoup its losses from their pay if they engage in industrial action after next Sunday week.

The company said a bonus paid to staff, which was withdrawn when they took industrial action, has offset costs so far but this will be exhausted by April 24.

Staff have been told their employment is on a "day-to-day" basis until further notice. Transdev said as much advance notice for such lay-offs or short-time working would be given as was reasonably possible.

"Staff were concerned about being put on protective notice," said one worker, who attended a meeting with Siptu at Liberty Hall yesterday.


"Siptu officials said the company basically wants to pickpocket us. The letter sent by Transdev was very provocative and we want to see what we will do now."

Transdev has said the revised pay proposal reflected its reduced financial resources since staff rejected a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) proposal.

Mr Madden said he had no intention of threatening his staff, and would not comment when asked if workers could lose their jobs. "I'm not escalating or threatening," he said. "I'm responding to indefinite strikes... It's with a very heavy heart that we're in this space."

He said the pay offer was very reasonable compared with industry norms and Siptu pay deals in other sectors.

Further strikes are planned on April 23, 24, 28, and May 4, 13 and 20. A four-hour stoppage from 3pm on May 26 is also planned as well as a 24-hour stoppage on May 27.

Meanwhile, in a broadcast on YouTube, Luas drivers outlined their objections to the WRC proposals. Driver Linda Ryan said she believed in equality in the workforce for all. Another driver said starting pay of €29,000 was basically bringing in "yellow-pack workers and we're not going to stand for it".

Another staff member said they had fought for a nine-hour working day and it was "a disgrace" that this would be increased by half-an-hour.

Irish Independent

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