Saturday 25 November 2017

Possible breakthrough in Luas dispute as Transdev agrees to cancel private bus service for St Patrick's Day

Luas tram drivers are still planning on striking for St Patrick's day
Luas tram drivers are still planning on striking for St Patrick's day

David Kearns

Luas operator Transdev has pulled back on its plan to hire private buses to replace its trams during strike action over St Patrick’s Day.

In what is possibly the first major breakthrough in the ongoing Luas dispute, management this evening announced it was scrapping its alternative travel arrangements for Luas passengers, saying they were “no longer needed”.

“We’re happy to set that aside, there’s no need for it now and we sincerely hope that we will progress quickly now over the next few days and find a resolution,” said Transdev's Managing Director Gerry Madden.

Read More: Donohoe's travel plans in doubt over Luas strike

Speaking outside the Labour Court today, Mr Madden said he was “delighted” to have accepted an invitation by the Workplace Relations Commission to came back tomorrow and talk to Luas drivers.

“The other three grades... have given us a chance to have reasonable discussions,” he added.

Following talks today, both Transdev and SIPTU, who are representing the striking Luas workers, said they were “satisfied” with the progress that had been made so far.

In a statement earlier this afternoon, the WRC urged Luas management to abandon its plans to hire private buses for St Patrick’s Day.

Read More: Luas strike: St Patrick's Day bus service is 'exceptional fall-back measure'

"In order to create a climate of positivity to these engagements and without prejudice to the position of any party, the commission has requested the company to defer any alternative travel arrangements for Luas passengers on Thursday St Patrick's Day.

"It is hoped the re-engagement with the drivers may stave off the strikes due to take place on seven days in March and April, including St Patrick's Day.”

SIPTU Divisional Organiser Owen Reidy welcomed Transdev’s pull-back on the private buses, saying that it “created space to seek a resolution.”

“They’ve stepped back from this bus initiative and it is a welcome move. It is something we’ve been calling for all week, and we think it will create the space for us to go in tomorrow and have unconditional discussions and make some progress,” he said.

“There’s a long way to go yet, as there are still significant gaps between the parties, but we’re looking forward to getting stuck in tomorrow.”

Read More: Luas strike is sign of worse things to come

Asked about the possibility if this progress could mean a halt to the planned tram disruption for St Patrick’s Day, Mr Reidy said it was “too early to say”.

“I would have preferred if Transdev had done this a few days ago but it’s done now. We’ve still got 48 hours and we’re going to do all we can to bridge the gap to avoid strike action on St Patrick’s Day but it is too early to say.”

Transdev earlier denied that it was engaging in “strike-breaking” by hiring the private buses to operate along Luas routes during Thursday’s planned strike.

Mr Madden said if he was in the business of strike-breaking he “could have done it before now”.

"The difference is that this a public holiday, it's for kids and families, so I'm surprised that people are surprised that I've tried to do something to help it along.

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