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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 14 July, 2020
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Will you be walking to work today? No end in sight as Luas strikes enter day 3

Neither side of the dispute has met with the other to resolve the issue after last week’s strikes.

HERE WE GO again.

It’s day three of Luas strikes in Dublin, with more widespread disruption on the way for the tens of thousands of commuters who use the service every day.

More strike action will follow tomorrow, with further days scheduled for 8 March and St Patrick’s Day. Workers will face losses to their wages at the end of the month for the days of work that they have missed.

The nature of the dispute, which has been well-reported on, boils down to pay – with Luas workers under the Siptu trade union asking for increases and employer Transdev not willing to offer the amount that they are asking for.

Neither side of the dispute has met the other since last week – and by all accounts this situation is no closer to being resolved than it was a month ago.

How to get to work today

Much the same as last week, Tranportforireland.com is providing up-to-date real time travel information for anyone who needs an alternative route to work, with major routes across Dublin expected to be very busy over the next two days.

For anyone who has to get a bus or drive, leaving the house early will be essential. Keep an eye on the AA Roadwatch Twitter account for the latest in traffic updates.

It’s important to note:

  • Buses, Darts and train services will all run as normal, but will almost certainly be busier – so plan accordingly (you may need extra time in the morning to avoid traffic/ overcrowding).
  • Luas tickets will NOT be valid on other forms of transport.
  • Luas will NOT be providing an alternative transport service, so there will be no extra bus services in place to transport people from Luas stations.

Holders of seven-day, 30-day, monthly and annual Luas tickets are entitled to a refund for the strike days in question. For details on how to claim a refund, visit the Luas website.

Hailo reported a 25% increase in demand last Thursday during rush hour, and is advising people to order taxis well in advance and at off-peak times.

If you’re thinking of walking, it seems that a lot of people decided to walk along the tracks to get to where they were going faster last week. However, Transdev has said in its statement that people should stay off the tracks.

Transdev remind customers that although there is no tram service it is against the law to trespass on Luas tracks and property. The overhead lines will be live and maintenance will be working on parts of the system.

No sign of agreement

Both sides of the dispute seem stuck in a stalemate as the strikes continue.

Luas workers are looking for payment increases of between 8.5% and 53.8% over a number of years.

LUAS strike 7 Striking workers at the Red Cow Luas depot Source: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Transdev says that those kinds of increases are not possible, and that the costs incurred to the company would be €30 million over the course of the five years of the Luas operating contract.

Talks broke down between workers and the company in the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) at the end of January. Since then, neither side has made significant movement towards the other.

Speaking yesterday on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Siptu division organiser Owen Reidy said that the top line figure of the salary demands was ambitious.

“I appreciate that the headline figure is very ambitious and unprecedented,” said Reidy.

The workers know full well that the start is not the endpoint. But if we’re going to try to negotiate our way out of this we’re going to have to have a willing partner.

Siptu has repeatedly stated that Transdev is only willing to consider pay increases in line with the Consumer Price Index. However, Transdev has said it will consider pay increases outside of this.

“Transdev have said… that it is willing to discuss pay increases outside of the consumer price index,” the company said in a statement.

The demands however must be reasonable: sensible. Normal pay demands in the public and private sector are between 1 – 3%.

Owen Reidy said workers were willing to negotiate and he said Transdev should re-enter into talks before the situation became more serious.

“We’ve said that we’re happy to enter talks with Transdev immediately in whatever form they choose,” he said.

LUAS strike 2 Workers striking last week at the Red Cow Luas depot Source: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Meanwhile, Transdev has said that it is “calling on SIPTU and internal staff representatives to re-engage under the auspices of the WRC to resolve this dispute and avoid any unnecessary disruption to our customers”.

So far, however, neither side appears to be able to reach an agreement.

Both state bodies overseeing the Luas service, the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have said that they can’t interfere in the dispute – as Transdev is a private company that was awarded a contract, and any State interference would compromise the contract.

However, with a St Patrick’s Day strike having the potential to cause huge disruption, it is clear that something will have to be done soon.

Read: Luas workers to strike on St Patrick’s Day

Read: Luas workers to have wages deducted for every day of strike action

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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