Monday 23 October 2017

Thousands without transport as Luas workers begin 48-hour work stoppage

Luas passengers at the St Stephen's Green stop in Dublin yesterday Photo: Gareth Chaney
Luas passengers at the St Stephen's Green stop in Dublin yesterday Photo: Gareth Chaney

David Kearns

Thousands of commuters have been left without transport this morning as Luas workers begin their two-day strike.

No trams will be in operation on Luas rail service today and tomorrow, and those heading into the city centre have been warned to be wary of extra traffic on all routes into Dublin.

Upwards of 90,000 Luas customers are thought to be affected by the stoppages and a further two-day strike has been scheduled for next Thursday and Friday.

Hundreds of angry commuters took to Twitter this morning to complain of delays, while AA Roadwatch warned commuter routes were busier than usual, particularly along the Grand Canal and on the Stillorgan Road.

SIPTU members have launched the strikes in pursuit of pay increases of up to 53 pc over the next five years.

Over 240 staff are taking part in the 48-hour work stoppage, and these workers will lose their pay and a bonus of up to €3,000.

Some 16 control room staff - who are not on strike - will also lose their pay and do not qualify for a SIPTU strike allowance worth around €40.

Luas operator Transdev faces a €100,000-a-day 'fine' for failing to provide a service on the light rail network.

Its Managing Director Gerry Madden has apologised to commuters, saying: “(We are) very disappointed that SIPTU have chosen to take this action, we have been working tirelessly to try and get them to modify their claim and call of these strikes,” said Madden.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to make a heartfelt apology to all the commuters and the Luas passengers who’re seriously disrupted by this unnecessary action.”

Although passengers with pre-paid Luas and Taxsaver tickets can claim refunds from next week, these tickets will not be accepted on other public transport services during the strikes.

Dublin Bus said it would not be in a position to honour Luas tickets, and said there would be no extra bus services in place to transport people from Luas stations.

"We advise customers to leave additional time for their journey, especially during peak times," said a spokeswoman.

The DART and other train services will also run as normal, and, like Dublin Bus, they will no honour Luas tickets.

AA Roadwatch are reporting that it is slow going coming into Dublin this morning.

There are delays on the N4 Lucan Road inbound towards Palmerstown, while further in, it is busy on St. John’s Road West right up to Heuston Station.

Those coming into the city centre via Drumcondra, inbound on the Swords Road, are also facing delays.

Along the North Quays, there is heavy traffic at Wolfe Tone and again from Ormond Quay to Bachelors Walk.

The Grand Canal eastbound from Ranelagh and inbound from Fairview is also quite busy.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe urged SIPTU to defer a second two-day stoppage next week and attend talks with Transdev.

"As Minister for Transport, I want to make clear to everybody involved in this industrial action that firstly, I expect the contract that is in place to provide Luas services to commuters in Dublin will be honoured on the days in which those strikes go ahead.

"There will be fines for the non-provision of those services, and secondly, this Government cannot and will not make funding available to resolve this dispute," he said.

Mr Donohoe added that the strikes were "not fair" to the public.

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