THE WORKPLACE RELATIONS Commission (WRC) will ask both sides in the Luas dispute to come in for separate negotiations next week.
The fourth day of strike action is taking place today, with widespread disruption for commuters across Dublin.
Siptu members at Luas have called for pay increases of between between 8.5% and 53.8%. Tram operator Transdev said they have moved from offering a pay increase in line with the Consumer Price Index to a normal pay claim of between 1 and 3 %, with discussions on productivity.
Transdev has argued that pay claims would cost it €30 million over five years, at a time when the company finds itself in “a loss making situation”.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Kieran Mulvey of the WRC said seeking a pay rise of 53% was “unusual, to be blunt”.
Mulvey said everyone is losing in the situation – drivers are losing pay, the company is losing revenue and 90,000 commuters are “struggling to get to work” every day the strike continues.
It’s about time people started getting real about this dispute and getting down to business.
Mulvey noted that the WRC works on a voluntary system of industrial relations and doesn’t have the legal authority to compel people to engage with it.
However, he said both parties will be asked to come in separately next week for talks to end the dispute “without inflicting further pain on commuters, on themselves and on the general public”.
St Patrick’s Day
Speaking of further strike action planned for St Patrick’s Day, Mulvey said it “doesn’t behove trade unions to be involved in national dispute on out public holiday”.
I’m not enamoured at the idea of a gun being put to our head … particularly around St Patrick’s Day … If this is a hearts and mind issue, you’re not going to win the heart of the public on this one.
Mulvey added that it was not the place of Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe to intervene as if he did it would leave the state open to potential litigation from companies who made unsuccessful bids for public transport contracts as the nature of the contract would have changed.