Friday 19 January 2018

Pay increase of between 8.2pc and 18.3pc over 33 months for Luas drivers

Luas at Connolly Station. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Luas at Connolly Station. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Allison Bray and Anne-Marie Walsh

LUAS trams will run tomorrow after a deal was brokered by unions and management following a marathon bargaining session at the Workplace Relations Commission.

The deal was reached shortly before 1pm today after members of Siptu and LUAS operator, Transdev, announced the threatened strike action that would have ground tram services to a halt has been averted.

It is understood that drivers will get a pay rise between 8.2pc and 18.3pc over 33 months, or up to 6pc a year, depending on their position on the pay scale in return for flexibility in a number of work practices.

Transdev boosted its initial offer of increases between 1pc and 3pc a year following overnight talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Drivers had reduced their initial demands, but were seeking increases in the region of 5pc to 6pc a year.

Control room staff have still not reached agreement, after demanding that pay rises should be frontloaded. However, this will not affect services running tomorrow as sources said other members of staff have been drafted in to carry out these functions.

Ticket inspectors and their supervisors have reached agreement on pay increases up to 14.9pc over 33 months.

The proposals will be put to staff in a ballot next Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’re in a better place than we were 48 hours ago,” said Siptu official Willie Noone. “Whether it’s good enough is the question. That will be down to the membership to decide. But in fairness, the Workplace Relations Commission did progress things a lot in the 27 hours we were in there.”

He said the pay increases being sought may seem high in the current economic climate.

“From the beginning there were huge expectations there,” he said. “It was unique because there was such a high vote for strike action. The fact is our members believe they have been underpaid for a long period of time and are trying to recoup some of that now.”

The tram service’s 172 drivers were asked to call off the strike today as state mediator Kieran Mulvey headed a last minute bid to halt the industrial action and broker a deal on their pay.

Sources said Transdev’s threat of a special bus service to ferry tourists into the city “concentrated minds” to reach an agreement.

The National Bus and Railworkers’ Union branded the move as “strike-breaking” and “scab labour”.

Transdev cancelled the bus service to allow progress at talks to end the dispute.

Other work stoppages were planned over the Easter weekend, and four days next month, while Siptu has threatened an all-out strike.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, welcomed the news that the strike will not take place.

"The recommencement of services tomorrow for our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be welcomed by commuters, tourists and businesses across the city," he said.

“Substantial progress has been reported. Obviously this has been achieved inside the terms of the current contract with no additional cost to the taxpayer. The progress being made is through the industrial relations resolution machinery, which I have repeatedly said, is the appropriate mechanism through which disputes should be, and are, resolved.”

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