Sunday 25 March 2018

We'll strike every week, warn Luas drivers in pay row

Natalia Oliveira, from Dublin, had to take a bus due to the Luas strike (Frank McGrath)
Natalia Oliveira, from Dublin, had to take a bus due to the Luas strike (Frank McGrath)
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Around 90,000 commuters face further traffic misery amid threats from Luas drivers to strike weekly if their pay demands are not met.

More than 240 staff are today taking part in a stoppage in pursuit of pay increases of up to 53pc over the next five years.

And in his strongest comments yet, Siptu organiser Owen Reidy warned the dispute was likely to escalate.

He said a decision would be made today during an internal meeting whether to take "further action" in the coming weeks.

"I can see a sustained period of industrial action, with one- or two-day stoppages every week or 10 days, indefinitely," he told the Irish Independent.

"It's more than likely we will be announcing more dates early next week, for the first week in March.

"I can't see any short-term breakthrough.

"I anticipate the drivers are in this for the long haul.

"We're in one place - but management are in a completely different place altogether."

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

A spokeswoman for the company said the company was sustaining massive losses which can last only so long.


Management would be happy to return to talks, she said, if the union came to the table with reasonable demands.

"We wish to go back to the Workplace Relations Commission and for them to engage in meaningful dialogue.

"They need to be realistic in relation to the pay claims; 8pc to 53pc is not a starting point in which to hold discussions.

"Sensible voices will have to be heard because the company is losing €100,000 a day.

"That can't continue forever."

"It is a threat to the company and the customers to say they are going to continuously have two-day stoppages, week-in week-out."

Conor Faughnan, AA Roadwatch director of consumer affairs, said motorists were seriously disrupted by yesterday's strike.

He warned drivers to expect long tailbacks today, especially during rush-hour traffic.

The Dundrum bypass, as well as the Clonskeagh, Milltown, Ranelagh and the Grand Canal areas, are particularly vulnerable to traffic logjams, he added.

Meanwhile, Luas operator Transdev, which lost €700,000 last year, said the scale of the pay claims was unprecedented.

Regular Luas commuter Natalia Oliveira said she was used to transport strikes in her native Portugal but not in Dublin, where she has lived for two years. "This is a big inconvenience for me. I am a chef and I need to get to my work on time," she said.

Irish Independent

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