Saturday 24 March 2018

Luas workers told their jobs are at risk

Firm to put staff on protective notice if tram strikes continue

Luas operator Transdev loses €100,000 for each strike day
Luas operator Transdev loses €100,000 for each strike day

Anne-Marie Walsh

Luas operator Transdev has warned striking staff that their jobs are at risk - and it will put them on protective notice if industrial action continues.

It gave the warning to more than 250 of its workers across four grades.

It is understood that Transdev tabled a new set of pay proposals, which were about 10pc lower than a package discussed at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that had been rejected by staff.

But in a statement, it said Siptu's expectations "remain in excess" of the WRC proposals, and so any talks would have no prospect of success.

Transdev and the union met yesterday in the Luas Red Cow Depot to discuss the ongoing row over pay rises.

Last week, Siptu served notice of another five days of strikes and a four-hour work stoppage. This was on top of two days of strikes later this month, for which notice has already been served.

The Transdev statement last night said: "The company took the opportunity to outline the serious consequences of this dispute continuing and undertook to write to Siptu and our employees setting out its position."

It said it wanted to "share the financial challenges" it faces and outline a revised pay proposal, taking account of the five days of industrial action since the WRC proposal was rejected.

Transdev is losing €100,000 for each day of strike action that takes place. It is understood that its revised pay proposal to staff would mean pay increases in two instalments of 2pc, followed by two 3pc increases over 33 months.

But sources said Siptu sought increases higher than those discussed at the WRC at yesterday's meeting.

"Based on the meeting this afternoon it is apparent that there is no basis for any talks or other intervention in this dispute at this point," said Transdev.

The company issued an invitation to the union to attend talks with chief executive Gerry Madden last Friday.

On the same day, Siptu served notice of five more days of strikes and the recommencement of a work to rule on April 17. The strike action dates are April 28, May 4, 13, 20 and 27. In addition, a four-hour work stoppage starting at 3pm will take place on May 24.

Mr Madden said the latest strike notice showed a continuing blatant disregard by Siptu for Luas customers.

He said the company was prepared to negotiate to deliver a "fair and balanced agreement", but this should be in line with pay norms in the private and public sector.

"Unfortunately, the demands of staff go way beyond this...They are totally unaffordable and cannot be met."

He warned that the company "cannot stand still" while its challenging financial position was "further eroded".

The company will take legal advice on the courses of action open to it.

"Transdev cannot stand still while its already challenging financial position, which has been independently verified, is further eroded," he said.

"Transdev signposted to staff (two weeks ago) that if the action persists, then not only will it be unable to deal with a claim for pay progression, but it will have to initiate discussions with staff to align our existing cost base with available resources."

Irish Independent

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