Threat of further Luas strikes as talks on pay row fail

Company says pay increases sought by staff would cost company €30 million per year

Talks aimed at averting a planned strike at the Luas light rail system in Dublin get underway at the Workplace Relations Commission on Friday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Talks aimed at averting a planned strike at the Luas light rail system in Dublin get underway at the Workplace Relations Commission on Friday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

 

Further strikes by workers on the Dublin Luas light rail system may be announced in the coming days following unsuccessful talks on Friday aimed at resolving a dispute over pay.

Staff at Luas, who are represented by Siptu, have already said they will stage two 48-hour work stoppages in February - on Thursday the 11th and Friday the 12th and Thursday the 18th and Friday the 19th.

Management at Luas operator Transdev and Siptu representatives took part in talks at the Workplace Relations Commission on Friday.

However, Siptu utilities and construction division organiser Owen Reidy said no progress was made and nothing had been achieved. He said the union would meet with staff representatives next week and look at further industrial action.

This could involve further strikes later in February or in March.

Up to 90,000 passsengers would be affected daily by any work stoppage by Luas personnel.

Luas management said last week that staff were seeking pay increases of between 8.5 per cent and 53 per cent. It said this would cost the company €30 million.

At a meeting with the union earlier this week Nigel Stevens, chief executive for UK and Ireland of the Luas operator Transdev, said he believed the existing pay, terms and conditions of employees were generous.

He said the dispute was “difficult to resolve because of the magnitude of the claims being made by Siptu”.

However Siptu said any resolution “will necessitate movement by the company on the crucial issue of workers’ pay”.

“In talks over the last 18 months, Transdev has failed to offer an increase in pay for the next five years to Luas workers. The company position in talks in all forums has been that it will only offer pay increases in line with the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI is currently, and has been for some time, a negative figure,” it said.

“The service our members provide has led to an increase in Luas passenger numbers and passenger revenue in excess of 25 per cent over the last five years. During that period, the workers have only received a 2.5 per cent pay increase. These workers cover a transport system operated seven days a week, 364 days a year, and receive nothing in addition to their salaries for working unsocial hours or weekends.”