Further attempt being made to resolve Luas dispute
Workplace Relations Commission’s Kieran Mulvey to contact management and staff
Commuters take to the tracks and walk along the line at Ranelagh. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
A new move is to be made to try to resolve the dispute which has led to two strikes on Dublin’s Luas rail system system this month.
The head of the Workplace Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey last night said he would be contacting management and staff representatives to see if there was any basis for a further intervention.
He said the commission had been taking note of developments since staff, represented by Siptu, rejected a Labour Court recommendation in December.
They are in dispute with Luas operator Transdev over their terms and conditions. The company has said staff are seeking pay increases of between 8 and 53 per cent.
Mr Mulvey also said Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe should not become involved personally in trying to resolve the Luas dispute. He said the Minister and agencies under the Department of Transport played a role in the procurement process that led to the awarding of the contract to operate the Luas system.
He said any change to an independently negotiated contract could bring the State into litigation with other companies which did not win the contract.
As 90,000 Luas passengers face another day of disrupted travel, business leaders expressed serious concern at the impact of the continuing industrial action on the Dublin economy.
Luas shop stewards again called on Mr Donohoe to release funding generated from increased passenger revenue – which under the terms of the contract for operating the Luas system goes to State body Transport Infrastructure Ireland – to finance a resolution.
Risk of legal challengeThe Government has argued that it cannot reopen or change the terms of the existing contract for operating the Luas system without risking legal challenges from companies that failed to win the tender.
Further stoppages by Luas staff are scheduled for March 8th and St Patrick’s Day.
Retail Ireland, the division of employers’ body Ibec that represents the retail sector, yesterday expressed serious concern at the effect of ongoing industrial action by staff at Luas as well as at the potential impact of further strikes next month.
“The prospect of action occurring during the St Patrick’s Day period, when the city is full of tourists, must be avoided,” Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke said.
MethodologyFianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley called on the Government “to find a methodology of bringing both sides in the dispute to the negotiating table”.
He said he was struck by the approach of members of the Government who were wringing their hands and saying the strike was not their issue.
Mr Dooley said there had to be a role for the Minister in trying to bring about a settlement.
Transdev yesterday rejected suggestions it was considering shutting the Luas system indefinitely in an attempt to bring the dispute to a head.