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Possible breakthrough in Luas dispute as Transdev cancels private buses

Both sides have been invited to talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Luas staff picket outside the Sandyford depot last month.
Luas staff picket outside the Sandyford depot last month.
Image: RollingNews.ie

First published: 9am

LUAS OPERATOR TRANSDEV has cancelled plans to operate a private bus service on St Patrick’s Day.

The operator announced its intention to provide the back-up bus service last week but the tactic has been described as “scab labour” and “Thatcherite” by some trade unionists.

The plan would have seen Transdev provide a bus to transport passengers between Dublin city centre and park-and-ride stops every 10 minutes on Thursday.

St Patrick’s Day is the first of seven days of strike action planned by drivers.

The decision not to go ahead with the private buses comes after Transdev agreed to enter talks at the Workplace Relations Commission tomorrow.

Siptu has welcomed the decision by Transdev to roll-back on the move.

The Workplace Relations Commission said it asked Transdev to withdraw the planned third-party travel arrangements as a gesture of good faith ahead of the talks.

“The commission is requesting both parties to enter these negotiations with a view towards successfully resolving the issues in dispute and to bring to an end the disruption of the transport services provided by Transdev to the general public,” Kieran Mulvey of the WRC said.

Earlier today, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy strongly criticised Transdev over its planned use of private buses.

Murphy accused the company of strike-breaking in a “very vicious, Thatcherite” manner and refusing to engage with union representatives.

In an interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Murphy called the action “extremely reckless and anti-union”.

The TD said AAA members would be at the picket lines on St Patrick’s Day to “show solidarity” with workers seeking better pay and conditions.

‘Little corner shop’

On the same programme, Siptu organiser Owen Reidy described the government as “effectively sitting on their hands” by refusing to intervene in the dispute.

“For the last week, [Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe] has been calling for talks but by merely calling for talks and not calling out the employer for refusing to talk [there is] tacit acceptance of the employer’s behaviour,” Reidy said.

Something has to give here. This isn’t a little corner shop selling sweets.
This is a company that has a very lucrative state contract to run a very key piece of public infrastructure.

Reidy said the union had moderated its pay claim from 53% to 27% over the next five years but that the company remained unwilling to negotiate with drivers.

“We have said we’re prepared to bargain and deal with productivity. We’re not going to be like schoolboys standing in the corner moderating our position outside the tent to the extent that it suits the employer,” he said.

This evening it was agreed that talks in regard to the driver grade would take place tomorrow at the WRC.

The other three grades are continuing in their negotiations under the auspices of the commission.

Discussions with the Siptu-represented drivers broke down last week.

Donohoe yesterday described Transdev’s plan to hire private buses as an “exceptional fallback measure” to cater for a public holiday.

He told RTÉ he hoped a solution could be reached that would avert planned strike action and ensure the back-up measure was not required.

Luas drivers are due to strike on St Patrick’s Day, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, as well as on 2, 3, 23 and 24 April.

- With reporting from Rónán Duffy

Read: Minister says Luas plan for St Patrick’s Day buses is an ‘exceptional measure’

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