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Luas crews turn up the pressure, but no strike yet

THE capital's commuters can breathe a sigh of relief over the immediate threat of a chaotic Luas strike.

Despite rejecting a Labour Court recommendation and having a ballot which voted in favour of industrial action, the drivers' union SIPTU has yet to serve notice on the Luas company Veolia Transdev.

Even when it does send the letter it must give the company 21 days' notice before it can take any form of action.

The Luas drivers voted in favour of the action in a bid to get more days off and shorter shifts -- and the national executive committee of SIPTU then sanctioned the possibility of a strike.

The scale of the action is yet to be decided by the drivers, who are demanding 23 extra paid rest days with a reduction in their shift to a maximum of eight hours.

The 165 tram drivers currently work nine-hour shifts in a seven-day cycle, with 104 rest days off every year, excluding holidays.

This is the equivalent of two days off a week. Veolia Transdev, the company which runs Dublin's Luas, says it does not have the funds to meet their demands.

It has offered half the extra rest days, but it will not reduce the shift times.

Train drivers with Irish Rail work an average of 9.36 hours a shift, and receive 96 rest days, plus 23 days annual leave.

The Labour Court recently issued a list of recommendations aimed at resolving the dispute. These including giving drivers an extra 10 rest days on top of the current 104 they have, plus the employment of eight extra drivers.


But the recommendations, which would have cost the company €500,000 a year, were rejected by the drivers. The Department of Transport has now urged both sides to return to discussions. More than 80,000 commuters use the Luas each day.

In March, the union announced it had started talks with management at Veolia.

After the rejection of the Labour Court recommendations the Luas drivers voted 93pc in favour of industrial action.