Monday 23 April 2018

Luas strike to cost €1m and damage 1916 Rising events

Photo: Caroline Quinn
Photo: Caroline Quinn
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

The Luas strike over the Easter weekend will cost Dublin traders more than €1m as thousands of stranded passengers cancel plans to attend the largest public event in the history of the State.

Luas workers overwhelmingly rejected proposals to avert the threatened strike on Easter Sunday and Monday.

It will leave tens of thousands of passengers with few transportation options to attend Easter Rising centenary events, said Dublin Town CEO Richard Guiney.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected in the capital for the historic Easter Sunday parade.

But with Dublin Bus already at full capacity and major traffic and Dublinbikes restrictions in place in key areas, "one would expect there to be a major impact", Mr Guiney predicted.

He said a Luas strike could cost businesses €1.5m on a working day, and would certainly cost them more than €1m over Easter Sunday and Monday.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said he was both "surprised and disappointed" by the overwhelming rejection of proposals aimed at averting the strike, following the marathon 28-hour bargaining session by the trade union Siptu and Luas operator Transdev at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) last week.

A tentative agreement that would have given Luas drivers an 18pc pay rise over three years saw the union call off a strike planned for St Patrick's Day at the 11th hour.

But that agreement was "now officially off the table and we'll have to rethink our strategy", Transdev managing director Gerry Madden said.

He said the WRC proposal "was at the very outer limits of what we could afford" and admitted: "This decision has serious implications for the company and our staff."

Siptu's Owen Reidy confirmed the strike was back on - noting that only two out of 167 drivers voted to accept the new deal. Although the union is open to fresh talks, none are currently planned.

Mr Reidy cited what he called "a complete breakdown in the relationship and trust between the driver grade and management at the company".

He said drivers rejected a new pay scale "that leaves new entrants on lower pay than current staff". They also rejected productivity measures sought by the company.

Mr Donohoe said the strikers would get little public sympathy and urged Siptu to cancel the action, which will affect one of the most important occasions in the State's history.

"Given the national significance of the Easter commemorations, the strenuous efforts by the WRC to resolve the ongoing Luas dispute, and the very generous pay terms on offer from the employer, I am calling on Siptu to explain to the public why Luas services would have to be cancelled for the commemorations," he said. "The public will expect a demonstration of good faith from them on this matter."

Employers' group Ibec called it "deeply frustrating and suggests a mindset utterly detached from economic realities".

Irish Independent

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