Luas drivers consider all-out strike ballot as talks break down

Dispute at light rail system set to escalate as Siptu says company would only talk to two grades

The dispute at the Luas light rail system is set to escalate with drivers and traffic supervisors to consider balloting for an all-out strike.

Talks at the Workplace Relations Commission aimed at resolving the dispute broke down on Monday night after nearly 11 hours.

Siptu, which represents Luas staff, maintained the company had said it would engage in talks with only two grades - revenue protection officers and revenue protection supervisors.

The union maintained the company had declared it would not talk to drivers and traffic supervisors.


It said this was despite drivers effectively reducing by almost half the level of pay increases being sought.

Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy said drivers and traffic supervisors would now look at scheduling further strike dates.

Ballot considered

He said both grades would also now consider a ballot on an all-out strike.

Revenue protection staff will engage in talks with the company at the Workplace Relations Commission.

However, the union said they were still scheduled to take part in a stoppage planned for St Patrick’s Day.

Strikes at Luas are also planned for the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Luas staff earlier said they had significantly reduced the level of pay increases they are seeking.

Luas drivers had been looking for rises of up to 53 per cent over five years. However, according to some informed sources, the personnel concerned have scaled this demand back to about 6 per cent per year over five years.

Talks aimed at resolving the current dispute, which has already seen Luas services brought to a standstill for four days, reconvened at the Workplace Relations Commission on Monday.

Reduced proposal

Arriving at the talks, Siptu shop steward at Luas Richard McCarthy said the union had tabled a significantly reduced proposal. It appeared the new proposal had been “received quite positively”, he said.

He said the union had been asked to keep its new pay claim confidential for the moment.

Staff were looking for “meaningful dialogue” with management at the new talks , Mr McCarthy said.

Managing director of Luas operator Transdev, Gerry Madden, said he was looking forward to hearing the union's revised pay claim.

However, he said even if the pay demands were modified by 70 per cent or 80 per cent, “it would still represent a significant pay claim for any employer to deal with”.

The company had previously proposed increases of between 1 and 3 per cent, linked to productivity measures.

Meanwhile, a potential dispute at Dublin Bus over plans by management to discipline drivers for listening to radios while driving has eased.

The National Bus and Rail Union said following a meeting with management the previous policy in relation to drivers listening to transistor radios would be reintroduced "and common sense will apply".

The union said the practice of having a radio playing in the cab would “remain as part of the company’s safety policy, but will be removed from the company’s zero tolerance policy, and a common sense approach will prevail”.

It said the issue of “instant dismissal for having a transistor radio playing” will be removed from the policies. “The company admitted this issue was not handled properly,” the union said.

Dublin Bus said it had met with trade unions “and agreed that the zero tolerance policy will not apply” to use of radios. The company said it reinforced the importance of “procedures which prohibit unsafe practices while driving”.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent