Luas strike finally ends as drivers agree pay hikes of up to 18 per cent

NewsBy Sunday World
Luas strike finally ends as drivers agree pay hikes of up to 18 per cent

STRIKE chaos at the Luas is over after drivers backed proposals for pay increases of up to 18 per cent over the next four years.

Passengers will be relieved after drivers voted 2:1 in favour of a Labour Court recommendation to end the disruptive row that has shut the red and green lines for 12 days of strikes.

Sitpu said that there were 108 votes in favour and 56 votes against in the ballot counted at the Red Cow Depot this evening.

Transdev said it has agreed to accept the recommendation.

"We are pleased with the outcome of the ballot," said Transdev, Managing Director, Gerry Madden.

"This vote by employees in favour of the Labour Court Recommendation is positive news.

"As our other 3 grades had previously agreed settlement terms at local level back in April, this now brings the dispute to an end."

Industrial action has been underway since February in the dispute over pay rises and conditions.

"Over recent days all SIPTU members employed as Luas drivers were given an opportunity to discuss and debate this Labour Court recommendation," said Siptu Divisional Organiser, Owen Reidy.

"They have now made an informed decision to accept its proposals.

"The workers recognise that this recommendation deals with the reduction of the terms and conditions of new entrants to the Luas driver grade by committing the company to a comprehensive review of this issue within the next 18 months.

"The proposal commits this review to take into account related developments in the public sector. The recommendation also provides new entrants with a quicker pay acceleration process than had been previously proposed.

"The recommendation contains improved terms in relation to the link between productivity and pay increases that will amount to between 15.6% and 18.3% between now and September 2020.

He said that the Luas drivers and their workplace committee displayed great resilience in pursuing a significant improvement in their conditions of employment.

"They have shown what workers can achieve if they maintain unity," he added.

The recommendations include wage increases between 15.6 per cent and 18.3 per cent for the 172 drivers up to September 2020, as well as a €750 payment on acceptance.

The pay rise equals increases from 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent a year every year for the next four years.

It will bring the drivers' total earnings at the maximum of the scale from €42,247 to €49,972 by September 2020, and €53,220 when a 6.5 per cent bonus is included.

The court recommended that a Transdev plan to increase the length of their shifts from nine to nine and a half hours should be dropped.

In return, drivers must cooperate with the extension of the Luas service to Broombridge, while spare drivers must agree to cover all available work during their hours of duty.

They will not get back a 6.5 per cent bonus, worth around €3,000, which they lost for taking part in industrial action but the bonus will return next year and beyond.

A starting salary for new recruits that is 10 per cent lower than their colleagues for the first three years will stay in place but a review of their pay will be undertaken within 18 months to take account of developments on entrants pay in the public sector.

In addition, Transdev will restore pay it docked from the drivers for participating in a work-to-rule and wages it deducted after suspending its sick leave scheme. In return, Siptu must drop Payment of Wages cases it was threatening against the company.

A four-hour work stoppage planned for today was postponed while the ballot was underway.

SIPTU did not issue a recommendation on the court's proposals.

Four further four-hour stoppages were planned next week when state exams begin but those plans have been scrapped.

The tram operator lost €700,000 last year. It has struck deals with pay rises of 13pc with other grades of staff.