Wednesday 13 December 2017

Traffic chaos predicted as Luas drivers begin 'work-to-rule' at midnight


Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

LUAS passengers may face disruption at peak times tomorrow when workers begin a work-to-rule at midnight.

Most of the Dublin-based light rail service’s staff are set to begin industrial action in pursuit of pay rises of between 8pc and 54pc.

Over 240 workers will be involved in the work-to-rule, which could affect rugby fans travelling to this weekend’s Ireland v Wales Six Nations clash.

It is the first industrial action in the pay dispute ahead of a 48-hour strike next Thursday.

The work stoppage will be followed by another 48-hour strike on February 18 and 19.

SIPTU said the industrial action could affect services on the tramline, which runs up to 2am before coming back at 4.30am, at peak times.

The work-to-rule means staff will refuse to do any work other than their designated rosters and duties. They will stick strictly to their start and finishing times, and breaks.

They will not work overtime or work in another depot, if they are asked by their managers. In addition, they will not answer phones outside working hours.

The SIPTU members include drivers, control office staff, revenue protection officers, and revenue protection supervisors.

“This work-to-rule will have some impact,” said SIPTU official Willie Noone. “It should be manageable, but will cause difficulties at peak times.

“The workers have certain flexibilities that makes the operation run smoothly. If you remove those, it becomes more acute at busier times.”

He said there may be fewer trains arriving.

The union official said there was no sign of an intervention by the Workplace Relations Commission, or an invitation to fresh talks.

“It appears that the company is resigned to have a dispute and that’s where we’re at.”

Luas operator Transdev has reacted to the work-to-rule by telling staff they cannot swap shifts. It has advised customers that the SIPTU action “may result in some service disruption”, and it apologised for any inconvenience.

It said services on the Red and Green lines will not run on February 11 and 12 or the following Thursday and Friday.

It said normal service will resume on Saturday February 13 and Saturday February 20 at 6.30am.

Luas tickets will not be valid on other public transport services during the strikes and Transdev will not be providing an alternative transport service.

However, customers with Luas pre-paid or Tax Saver tickets will be eligible for a refund during the strikes.

Customers impacted on February 11 and 12 can apply for a refund from February 15, while those affected by the second strike can apply for a refund from February 22.

Previously, Transdev released figures showing some drivers are seeking a massive pay rise of almost 54pc.

It said tram drivers on €42,247 a year are seeking a 53.8pc increase to €64,993 – more than an Irish Rail driver.

The company says the pay claim would cost it  €6m a year and it cannot afford it as it lost €700,000 last year.

SIPTU argues that the pay claims are its 'opening position', and it does not expect to achieve a 54pc hike. It also says the pay increases would be spread over a number of years. The company said it lodged the claim because the company has not offered any wage rises for the next five years and pay is out of kilter with market rates.

A ‘no strike’ clause in SIPTU’s agreement with Transdev was axed following a deal with the union three years ago so next week’s stoppage will be the first Luas strike  if it goes ahead.

Luas Customer Care is on Lo Call 1850 300 604..

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