All you need to know about the Luas strikes

144 hours of work stoppages are planned over the next month

Luas, drivers, strike, Dublin, pay claim, SIPTU, Transdev, Owen Reidy, WRC, talks

Inactive Luas trams at the Red Cow depot | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Luas will not operate on Easter Sunday and Monday after tram staff rejected a new pay deal.

Where we're at: Talks at the Workplace relations Commission broke down following the near total rejection of Transdev’s offer by the Luas drivers. Just two out of 167 drivers voted in favour of the proposal.

SIPTU divisional organiser Owen Reidy said: “It seems quite clear that there is a complete breakdown in the relationship and trust between the driver grade and management at the company.”

Transdev have now withdrawn that offer under the terms of the WRC document.

Why the proposal was rejected? The drivers said they considered it “a retrograde step”. SIPTU steward Richard McCarthy said the proposed measures failed to improve drivers’ terms and conditions and “in some cases worsened them”.

Mr McCarthy said the offer that emerged from talks was conditional on a 10% reduction in the rate of pay for new entrants, bringing it back to 2004 levels.

He also said the offer was conditional on the existing 10-year incremental pay scale being increased to a 14-year scale and the proposal would have involved drivers agreeing to work longer shifts, from nine hours to 9.5 hours.

Further strikes: As well as the upcoming strikes on Easter Sunday and Monday the drivers also plan industrial action next week on Saturday and Sunday, April 2nd and 3rd, and then again later in April on the 23rd and 24rd, which is also a weekend.

There is also the possibility that the drivers may step up their action to an all-out strike. Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, SIPTU’s Owen Reidy said "it's something they will have to consider. Like all these things, the longer this goes on the deeper and potentially more difficult it gets.

Passengers affected: The Luas carries an average of 80,000 passengers each day, a total of 34.6 million journeys were made on the service last year. Nearly 400,000 trips were affected by the driver’s two 48-hour work stoppages in February.

On Easter Sunday the longest parade in the history of the State proceeds through Dublin city centre. Anne Graham of the National Transport Authority told Pat Kenny on Newstalk that on a typical Sunday, with no major events taking place, 70,000 people use the Luas to get into Dublin. She said that they would have expected more than 100,000 to use the tram on Easter Sunday.

How much are the drivers paid? Currently, a Luas driver in their first year in the job is paid €35,901 for a 39-hour week. Through incremental increases that reaches €42,247, after they are with the company for nine years.

Luas drivers' salaries are lower than those of DART or Irish Rail drivers however their earnings compare favourably with pay rates of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann drivers.

Irish Rail drivers' 10-year pay scale ranges from €43,717 to €55,239 for a 43-hour week. While for Dublin Bus drivers the pay scale ranges from €20,445 to €46,618.

The WRC proposal would have meant a driver on €42,247 would have seen an increase in salary to €50,000 by January 2019 plus a bonus of €3,250 to reach an overall salary level of € 53,250.

The cost: Dublin Town CEO, Richard Guiney, has said that the strikes will cost businesses more than €1m over Easter Sunday and Monday. Employers' group Ibec said the strike is "deeply frustrating and suggests a mindset utterly detached from economic realities".