Luas strike will go ahead on Sunday, Donohoe says

It is a shame an act of goodwill was not forthcoming, Minister says

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said it was a real shame that an act of goodwill was not forthcoming from the drivers. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said it was a real shame that an act of goodwill was not forthcoming from the drivers. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe has confirmed that Luas strikes are going ahead in Dublin on Sunday.

He told reporters it was a real shame that an act of goodwill was not forthcoming from the drivers.

The planned strike action will halt services on the Dublin tram system on Easter Sunday and Monday.

“At this stage it is now certain that the strikes over the commemorative period will be going ahead. This is a real pity over everybody who wanted to be able to come in to our city centre to enjoy the ceremonies and to be able to travel around using public transport.

“I want to emphasise though that public transport will be available, all accessible through the National Transport Authority’s website, where bus services and train services are in place to encourage people to come into the city centre and to use public transport to do it.”

“Yesterday I asked union leadership to recognise the extraordinary efforts that had gone in to try and resolve this issue in relation to the Luas - efforts that had really intensified over recent weeks, and in recognition of those efforts to ask them to defer the strikes that were taking place across the commemorative period, in recognition that this is a one in a hundred-year event.”

He said it was a “real shame that that act of good faith wasn’t forthcoming” from the drivers because the deferal of the strikes would have made it even easier for people coming to the city and living in the city to enjoy the festivities.

Asked if he was concerned Transdev would pull out of Ireland, he said the company had made it clear it would not be responding with any “knee-jerk reactions”.

“I welcome that and I think it’s important that everybody does the same.”

The workers, who are members of Siptu, this week overwhelmingly rejected a pay deal brokered at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in an attempt to resolve the long-running dispute.

Further strike action is planned for next weekend and on two further dates in April.

The pay deal would have given existing staff increases of up to 18 per cent over 33 months, Transdev has said.

Luas drivers, the largest group of staff, were unhappy with the proposals and productivity conditions, however.

Drivers also objected to plans to employ new entrants on rates reduced by 10 per cent.

The company argued that such a two-tier pay structure was permitted under a 2010 deal with Siptu.

It said newly recruited drivers would still earn €31,000, higher than any such driver in any light-rail system in Europe. Transdev has said the offer is now off the table.

The company said on Friday it would be holding its own internal meetings over the weekend but did not plan any more talks with staff or unions.

Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy said the union had not made a recommendation to staff to accept or reject the proposals but said: “Parties agreed at the negotiations at the WRC that this was the best that could be achieved in the negotiations at that point.”

Mr Donohoe has also said he will not put the cost of the dispute on the taxpayer.

The National Transport Authority said it had no role in the dispute but encouraged both sides to resolve the matter.

Asked what his expectations were with regard to the formation of a government were, Mr Donohoe said further negotiations and discussions would take place next week.

“The discussions that have taken place to date between independents and smaller parties have been constructive and I would expect they would continue across next week.”