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'You'll look like a God': How people thought the Luas dispute could be solved

Here’s what members of the public thought about the strike – one of the biggest talking points of 2016.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

2016 MIGHT GO down as the ‘year of strike’, with several forms of industrial action happening across various sectors.

The Luas pay dispute got a lot of coverage in the first half of the year, with Dublin’s light rail service being suspended on 12 days.

On 3 June, drivers voted to accept Labour Court recommendations of a pay increase of up to 18.3% over the next four years. Luas operator Transdev also accepted the recommendation after months of negotiations and disruption for commuters.

The strike divided public opinion. Drivers were initially looking for pay increase ranging from 8.5% to 53.8% across four grades of staff.

Shortly before an agreement was reached, employees told us they were “looking for a fair slice” of the company they helped build. Transdev said the level of pay increase drivers were looking for was not feasible.


Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe served as Transport Minister until May so got the bulk of complaints from the public about the strike.

At the start of the year he told TheJournal.ie why he wasn’t intervening in the dispute.

“I’ll tell you exactly why I shouldn’t get involved in it because we have the Workplace Relations Commission – the WRC – and the Labour Court that are put in place by government to deal with these matters.

So for any minister, or any government, to get involved in trying to arbitrate on a potential strike would be directly undermining state agencies that we have in place to do that work.

The general consensus of the complaints, released to TheJournal.ie under the Freedom of Information Act, was that the strikes were very inconvenient and people wanted Donohoe to intervene:

luas donohoe


No Facebook likes

One person said they sent Taoiseach Enda Kenny an email in lieu of writing a Facebook post about the strike, outlining why they believed gardaí and nurses deserved to get pay rises before Luas or Dublin Bus workers (who also resolved a pay dispute this year):

luas gardaí

They signed off as “a confused citizen of Ireland”.

Another person who wrote to Donohoe said he believed drivers had a right to strike, but that the level of the pay increase they wanted was “extortionate”:

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luas blackmail

One passenger was unhappy about the 48-hour stoppage on Easter Sunday and Monday, the same weekend as the official 1916 commemoration events in Dublin. They described the move as Trotskyite:

luas 1916

‘Get the public back on side’

Someone else suggested drivers engage in ‘no fares’ days instead of strike action to “get the public back onside”. They told Donohoe to tell the media he proposed the idea and, as such, would “look like a God to the ordinary man”.

They included this sign-off: “Best of luck with the whole minority government thing”:

min best of luck

Another member of the public was less enthusiastic. They sent their letter before a government had been formed, and critiqued how long the process was taking.

They called on Donohoe to get help solve the dispute “like a true man of good character”:

min govt luas

Read: The Luas drivers have voted to accept the Labour Court pay recommendations

Read: “We’re looking for a fair slice of the company we’ve helped build”

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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