Luas dispute: A delusional pay claim

SIPTU drivers should rethink their position

 

Demands by SIPTU on behalf of 200 members at Dublin’s Luas system are untenable and its industrial action, which continues today, has inconvenienced an estimated 90,000 commuters and caused financial loss to businesses. Rather than impose further disruption through planned stoppages on March 8th and March 17th, SIPTU should review its demands and seek mediation in the context of proportionality, national competitiveness and a loss-making service provider.

Wage claims exceeding 50 per cent over a five-year period reflect the kind of walk-on-water delusion that afflicted the country during the Celtic Tiger years. Such increases are unsustainable at a time of minimal inflation. But SIPTU demands do not stop there – they include an additional week of holidays for Luas drivers along with better pension provision and family benefits. The company estimates the full claim would add €30 million to its costs over five years.

This dispute and the manner in which it will be resolved could have a seminal effect on industrial relations. The National Bus and Railworkers’ Union has served notice that pay demands for its bus drivers will be based on concessions made to Luas workers. Iarnród Éireann train drivers could then be expected to lodge differential pay claims in a well-established leap-frog exercise.

Because of the election, a whiff of opportunism attends the timing of this strike. But Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe ruled out the possibility of providing Transdev, the loss-making private company that operates the Luas system, with special funding. He also declined to be drawn into a negotiating process.

That is understandable, given the record of previous governments in buckling to pressure from public transport interests. Following initial engagement, both the Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Commission have not become involved again because of what they regard as an unbridgeable gap between the parties. In such circumstances, SIPTU and the Luas drivers should rethink their position.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.