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"There's a long way to go" - crisis Luas talks taking place ahead of Patrick's Day stoppage

Luas operator Transdev’s climbdown last night regarding the provision of emergency buses on 17 March has paved the way for the latest round of talks.

10/2/2016. Luas Tram Strikes Source: Leah Farrell

LAST DITCH TALKS between Luas operator Transdev and tram drivers are to take place this morning in the hope of averting a tram-strike on Thursday, St Patrick’s Day.

Last night Transdev announced that they would be scrapping the provision of emergency buses on the national holiday, an idea that had been dismissed as “scab labour” and “Thatcherite” by various union officials and others yesterday.

This has paved the way for the Luas drivers to rejoin the pay talks along with the other three grades of Luas workers this morning.

Siptu’s Owen Reidy earlier told Morning Ireland that there was still “a long way to go” with regard to the talks.

“I have always said from day one that any planned action will be called off if we reach an agreement; we’re going in this morning with optimism, but it’s important to note that we’ve been here before,” he said.

We need to knuckle down and reach an agreement so we can avoid any further industrial actions. Each of the four grades want nothing more than to offer the public service that they have been providing for 10 years now.

No favours?

When it was suggested to Reidy that the Luas workers are doing themselves no favours in striking on important public holidays such as St Patrick’s Day, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday he acknowledged that that was a point he had heard “from a lot of different people”.

“We have a duty to represent our members at the end of the day,” he said.

The Luas drivers are currently looking for a pay rise of 27% (down from 53%) which would see a salary increase of circa €13,000 to about €55,000 over the next five years.

Transdev have previously said they can not negotiate such a large pay rise.

Reidy says the rise is justified:

“We’ve looked at the success of the Luas in the last five years, with a 30% increase in customers and more revenue generated than ever before, yet only a 2.5% increase in pay.”

Workers are always going to look at the success of the organisation they have worked with, and formulate pay claims as a result.

He also said that he could see such pay rises becoming more and more the norm in the near future:

“I think you’re going to be seeing a lot more people right across the economy being more confident and being more optimistic and seeking to reclaim the lost ground that they had to concede in the times of recession.”

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