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Travel chaos looming as Luas drivers vote to strike

COMMUTER bedlam is expected in the capital because Luas drivers have voted to strike for four full days next month.

The drivers' union Siptu has served notice of industrial action which will start in the week beginning November 5.

Siptu argued it had no option but to proceed with action after talks failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

"Luas drivers balloted in favour of industrial action by a majority of 93pc," a representative said.

"This decision was not taken lightly and only comes after an extended period of negotiations with the company which began in 2010."

Some 80,000 Dubliners who use the Luas for their daily commute now face major problems within four weeks.

The strike will begin on Monday November 5 and will last for 48 hours through Tuesday 6 and then again from Friday November 9 for a further 48 hours through Saturday 10.

The drivers are objecting to the current working duties and roster arrangements.

Siptu said that Luas drivers agreed to forfeit any payclaims until 2015 and agreed to forfeit any claim for reduction in duty length which is currently nine hours, in order to achieve the improvements in the roster.

"These measures offered by the driver grade presented considerable savings to the company," Siptu said.

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

The 104 days is the equivalent of every Saturday and Sunday off.

The drivers are demanding 23 extra paid rests days, plus a reduction in their shift to a maximum of eight hours.

Siptu said that it understands that Veolia were separately negotiating with the control room staff and in conjunction with the RPA to improve their conditions by approving an additional 23 rest days to their roster and eight-hour shifts.

Over half of all drivers are in their seventh year of employment which means that they are earning between €43,300 and €45,500.

Drivers' basic pay increases with bonuses and gradual increments every year.

A driver in his first year of service has a basic salary of just over €32,000.