Luas war of words: Kieran Mulvey rejects SIPTU's call to step down

Update 5.51pm: The managing director of Transdev, which operates the Luas, said that he is open to hearing a new pay proposal for Luas drivers as long as it is “reasonable”.

“Look at putting a claim across my desk next week that is in line with industry norms,” he said.

“Look at including productivity enhancements because there must be those.

“Look at a way in which we can try and make sure that the vast majority of employees here get the best deal possible.

“But the pot has diminished, we haven’t got a blank chequebook, but it’s reasonable, if it’s sensible, if it’s fact-based, then, you know, my door will be open.”

Update 1.25pm: Acting Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has ruled out any Government intervention in the escalating Luas dispute.

Minister Donohoe said he would not be opening up the “chequebook of the taxpayer” in a bid to solve the dispute.

Update 12 noon: The head of the Workplace Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey has said he has no intention of standing down after SIPTU head Jack O'Connor called on him to do so, having accused Mulvey of bias in the Luas dispute.

In a statement this afternoon, My Mulvey said: "Jack believes that in articulating this view (questioning whether further planned strikes will move the sides towards a resolution) I have somehow undermined my position in the dispute.

"I disagree and have no intention of standing down, nor see any reason to do so."

He also rejected Mr O'Connor's suggestion that the WRC's recent invitation to talks was ill-timed, and that an alternative method of resolving the dispute was under active consideration at the time.

Mr Mulvey (pictured below) said the Commission was not aware that an another approach to resolving the dispute was being considered and the WRC acted only in response to the public statements issued by the parties and direct contact with and from them.

He added that "when issuing the invitation I asked the company not to proceed with the supply of alternative transport on St. Patrick’s Day and the company did that. For its part, the trade union called off the action planned for the day".

Update 11.10am: The head of the Workplace Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey has said he is "taking advice" after SIPTU's Jack O'Connor accused him of bias against the union, and called on him to step down.

Representatives from SIPTU and from Transdev (which runs the Luas) met for talks in recent weeks at the WRC, which culminated in the union's rejection of an 18% pay offer last week.

Transdev CEO Gerry Madden said in his experience Kieran Mulvey was not biased towards either party, and should not step down.

He said: "I can say from personal experience having spent 27 hours in there, I didn’t get any sense that (Kieran Mulvey) has any bias one way or the other.

"Anybody who tries to bring sides together to resolve a dispute - they're welcome as far as I'm concerned."

Update 9am: Transport Minister Pascal Donohoe has rejected calls to step in to the log jammed Luas dispute.

"We have an organisation in place to resolve these issues - the Workplace Relations Commission," he said.

"If I become involved directly, I undermine their work and the ability of any future government to ever resolve any issue like this."

Update 8am: SIPTU boss Jack O'Connor has called for the resignation of Workplace Relations Commission chair Kieran Mulvey after comments the latter made about the Luas strike.

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Mr Mulvey said he was at a loss as to why the dispute is continuing, and why union representatives had not contacted him since they rejected a compromise deal for 18% in pay rises last week.

Mr Mulvey said most in the public service would have accepted that deal. He added that most union officials who received that proposal would have taken it back to their members and would have received a standing ovation.

He said a five-day Luas service may have to be considered, in the absence of progress.

Jack O'Connor said his comments showed bias against the unions, made Mr Mulvey an untenable chair in the discussions and called for his resignation.

Earlier:

This weekend's strike action at Luas will go ahead.

In this latest stoppage by drivers in a row over pay, trams will not run on Saturday and Sunday.

In a statement yesterday the CEO of Transdev U.K. and Ireland, Nigel Stevens, said the drivers' current demands are "totally unaffordable and will not be countenanced", adding that the company was "deeply disappointed with the situation".

Luas drivers are represented by SIPTU.

Drivers had been looking for a pay rise of up to 53%, and last week rejected a pay offer of between 8% and 18% over 33 months.

SIPTU's Eoin Reidy said: "The only way this will resolved on terms both sides can live with is through dialogue and discussion. We're available to do that, but there doesn’t seem the prospect of that happening.

"In the absence of that, the action that is planned is going to go ahead. There will be further action towards the end of April which will involve two additional grades as well as drivers.

"It looks like stalemate and logjam."


 

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