Thursday 22 March 2018

Luas strikes on Thursday and Friday set to be called off

General view of Luas arriving at St. Stephen's Green stop
General view of Luas arriving at St. Stephen's Green stop

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

LUAS strikes on Thursday and Friday are set to be called off as drivers ballot on a pay rise up to 18.3pc by 2020.

The thirteenth and fourteenth days of strikes at the light rail network were due to take place later this week.

But a Labour Court recommendation has just been issued that could end the long-running dispute.

Sources said the normal practice when proposals are being considered  is that industrial action will be suspended.

The drivers previously rejected a proposal for a pay rise of 18pc in a deal that was brokered by Siptu and Transdev at the Workplace Relations Commission.

But sources said the new deal is much better. Although the pay increase between 15.6pc and 18pc – depending where the driver is on the payscale - is similar, it is structured differently.

In the commission’s deal they would have got an 8.2pc long-service increment after four years on the maximum of the scale.

The new deal includes a long service increment of 2.5pc after three years on the maximum of the scale, by September 2020.

The court’s new recommendation also asks for considerably less extra productivity from staff.

Notably, an increase in their hours from nine to nine and a half has been dropped in the Labour Court recommendation.

In addition, they are set to get back pay that Transdev docked by 10pc for participating in a work-to-rule.

Any driver taken off the sick pay scheme – because absences went above normal levels – will be paid arrears.

Siptu said it will meet the Drivers’ Committee tomorrow morning to analyse the deal and it will conduct a secret ballot by Friday.

Read More: 'Useful' Luas talks at the Labour Court - but strikes 'in pipeline'

Drivers have been seeking a 23pc pay rise within the next three years while the tram company is only prepared to offer 13pc.

Control room staff, ticket inspectors and their supervisors have already accepted a 13pc wage hike.

They have been taking annual leave or unpaid days off on strike days to avoid passing the pickets.

Transdev has put the drivers on protective notice and is docking their pay by 10pc for taking part in a work-to-rule.

Read More: Luas strikes cancelled ahead of pay row talks

It has also suspended them from the sick pay scheme – apart from those with critical illnesses - because it claims absence levels are above normal.

Siptu has described this move as outrageous, provocative and over the top.

Without agreement, a four hour work stoppage will take place on Thursday and another on Friday.

Strikes last week that would have hit Bruce Springsteen and football fans heading to a clash against the Netherlands were called off after the Labour Court invited Siptu and Transdev to talks.

Hopes are now high that the ballot on the Labour Court’s verdict may bring an end to the long-running dispute.

There have been 12 days of strikes since the dispute over pay rises and better working conditions escalated into industrial action last February.

As well as this week’s strikes, services on the red and green lines will not run on June 7, 8, 9 and 10 as state exams are due to start.

Transdev said that each four hour stoppage impacts services for one and a half hours before and after the stoppages as well to wind down services and get them up and running again.

For four hour stoppages between 9am and 1pm, it recommends that customers finish their journeys before 7.30am and to expect delays after the stoppage until 2.30pm.

For stoppages between 3pm and 7pm, it encourages passengers to finish journeys before 1.30pm and to expect delays until 8.30pm, and for stoppages between 6pm and 10pm, they are asked to finish their journey before 4.30pm and to expect delays until 11.30pm.

Meanwhile, Luas red line stops from Abbey Street to the Point will be closed until the end of July during Luas Cross-City construction works. A replacement bus service in place for the temporary closure will not operate during the strikes.

Customers with Luas pre-paid or Tax Saver tickets are eligible for a refund.

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