Socialist Worker 390

All trade unionists must support drivers’ fight.

As Socialist Worker went to press, the scheduled strikes on the Luas had been deferred pending talks at the Labour Court initiated by the ICTU president Patricia King. While workers have been told their action must be deferred, the company has continued with its bully boy tactics aimed at demoralising the drivers. Several drivers have been suspended, including at least one shop steward and the company have broken the law by deducting 10% of driver’s wages to compensate themselves for the costs of the dispute.

Drivers have been suspended for refusing to work new rosters that were not agreed to and are unsafe with shorter breaks and often longer shifts.

Drivers were preparing for a ballot for all out strike when the offer of new talks came. The company have continued to threaten and bully drivers aided by a vicious  media campaign aimed at undermining the driver’s case. Both employers and the Government understand the importance of the Luas dispute with both keen to stop the example of a well organised and militant group winning a significant pay dispute. They fear this will inspire other workers to try to roll back the years of austerity cuts and pay freezes.

One driver told SW that they are sceptical of the Labour Court intervention and are seething at the continued bullying of Transdev. The company’s latest tough guy tactics are aimed at weakening workers resolve pending another offer brokered by the Labour Court. The last offer was worse than Transdev’s initial offer and was roundly rejected for seeking to savage the pay of new entrants.

The stance of Luas drivers should be welcomed by all trade unionists for refusing to sacrifice new recruits. Tesco and others show the dangers of allowing employers to divide and rule with different groups of workers doing the same work for different pay.

Transdev are a profitable multinational company that has repatriated over €9 million in profits to its French parent company since 2009 and has a notorious record internationally on workers and human rights. In 2012 Transdev’s parent company, Veolia, tried to sue the Egyptian Government to prevent the raising of the minimum wage at a time that wage stood at less than 0.75 cents an hour!

Transdev has tendered for Dublin Bus routes that the Government and the National Transport Authority are trying to hive off for privatisation. If Transdev get away with this attack on Luas drivers it will be a blueprint for other employers and set a benchmark for other transport workers’ claims. Both Dublin Bus and Irish Rail workers are due to have pay claims dealt with in the Labour Court next month.

Transdev cannot be allowed to get away with these attacks. All Trade unionists should pass motions supporting the workers and invite them to their branches to explain their case and counter the media attacks. SIPTU and the ICTU should withdraw from all talks until the illegal cuts to wages and the suspensions are lifted.

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