Everything On The Line

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From top: Patricia King, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions this morning at the Labour Court; Luas commuters; Jimmy Dignam

As Siptu and Transdev meet at the Labour Court to resolve the Luas driver’s dispute a Workers’ Party activist sets out the case against Transdev.

Jimmy Dignam writes:

The LUAS strike is not about how big the pie is – it’s about agreeing the fairest way of sharing the spoils.

And Transdev’s behaviour shows that privatising our services means increasing spoils for corporations – at the expense of workers and the state.

Over the past twelve years, the Luas service has been a stunning success – not only for the commuters it serves, but also for its operator, multinational transport giant Transdev.

In 2013, the company’s EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization – a useful proxy for company profitability) were €1.54 million, while in 2014 they were €1.24 million.

In 2013 it paid a dividend of €1.68 million to its shareholders while its parent companies, Veolia and Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, generated profits of €246 million and €1.8 billion, respectively, in 2014.

In addition, Irish profits are likely to rise significantly when the Red and Green lines are joined in 2017. And given that Transdev is reportedly considering bidding for bus routes when they are put out to tender later this year, they obviously still view Ireland as a lucrative transport market.

Transdev have succesfully manipulated the public mind into seeing them as a struggling company, burdened by unreasonable pay claims. But what we can be sure of is that the shareholders are getting their fair share – why not the workers?

So the current dispute is not about workers bringing an ailing company to its knees. Rather, it is about workers seeking to negotiate with a profitable company for an improvement in their terms and conditions. As one worker put it last week when interviewed by The Journal: “We’re looking for a fair slice of the company we’ve helped build”.

After years of listening to voices in the establishment decrying the plight of the private sector worker in comparison to their ‘overpaid’ public-sector counterpart, one might have expected the media to swing in behind the Luas workers in their struggle for better conditions.

Yet, the artificial, media-constructed divide between public and private sector workers has taken a 180 degree turn over the last number of months.

From the vilification of public sector workers at the height of the economic crisis we must now listen to denunciations of greedy private sector tram drivers holding the population to ransom. Nurses, doctors and teachers, once denounced, are now lauded in comparison – one suspects there is a more general anti-worker agenda at play here.

The divide and conquer tactics are transparent and almost farcical – we hear that a Junior Doctor is paid less than a Luas Driver – The Journal debunks this one showing that a Junior Doctor’s average starting pay (including average bonus and overtime) is greater than that of a Luas Driver in year 1 and by year 10 is almost two times greater.

When I joined them on the picket line last month I was struck by the conviction of the Luas workers’ beliefs.

They recounted the intense concentration required while driving through Smithfield at midnight, as drunk young people stumbled out onto the tracks – and how a seemingly small increase in unbroken driving time, as proposed by Transdev, would in fact go against best practice health and safety advice.

They also spoke passionately about how unfair it is that a worker is paid less in the private sector than the public sector for doing fundamentally the same work.

Luas Drivers wages are ‘significantly lower than those of Dart, Suburban or Irish Rail Mainline drivers’.

How is it that, for those at the top, we hear enormous public salaries justified by a need to compete with the private sector, but for the ordinary workers, it’s considered acceptable to earn less in a private company?

Meanwhile, LUAS workers accused of greed and self-interest rejected outright proposals from Transdev that new entrants would earn less in real terms than colleague who started five years ago. Its an admirable demonstration of solidarity with young, precarious workers.

The contrast between this solidarity, and the profit-hunger of Transdev is worth dwelling on.

Why is it we believe that a massive, profitable multinational company has the right to increase its profits indefinitely, while workers’ demands for a commensurate increase in wages is regarded as greed?

Transdev’s consistent profitability over successive years shows that the LUAS is one of the most profitable elements of our transport system.

But currently, as a state we lease the provision of this profitable service out to a private company to benefit from. It will always generate more revenue than an isolated bus route in rural west Cork – I imagine Transdev won’t be leasing that service provision from the state any time soon.

If Transdev are not willing to pay workers a decent wage to do a valuable job, then let us do them a favour; end the state’s contract with Transdev, and take LUAS provision into public ownership, a valuable asset we’d be happy to manage, pay workers a decent wage, and improve the financial sustainability of Ireland’s public transport system as a whole.

Jimmy Dignam is a member of UNITE’s Youth Committee and a Workers’ Party representative for Dublin Northwest Follow him on Twitter: @JimmyDignamWP

218 thoughts on “Everything On The Line

      1. Baffled

        The average wage here is €35k/year. Do Luas drivers deserve to be paid a huge premium to the average wage? If your answer to that is ‘yes’, then please explain what it is about their job that merits such a premium.

          1. Bobby

            This is a website that requires people’s opinions to be successful. You don’t have to agree with themevery opinion, just don’t try and stop them.

          2. classter

            Because ultimately we pay their salaries. And they are holding us and infrastructure we funded hostage (a slightly emotive eay of saying it) as part of their negotiation with their bosses.

            And if they demand pay rises, then so will other workers. Dublin is already an expensive place to live.

            We are a small, open economy & most of us are effectively benchmarked against the cost of employees in other countries. And increasingly against the cost of software. If the cost of living increases, many of us effectively become poorer or unemployed.

            If it seemed like the Luas drivers were being hard done by, then I suspect most of the commenters on this site would support them. However, it seemed that their salaries were fairly reasonable & that they were making unreasonable requests.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Because ultimately we pay their salaries.”

            So we’re “ultimately” paying Gerry Madden’s salary as well, right? Why aren’t people talk7mg about what he and the other executives are earning?

          4. classter

            I think because of three things:
            1) Madden has negotiated this wage with Transdev. He isn’t striking, thus preventing the Luas from running & appealing to the public for sympathy in his negotiations with Transdev.
            2) This benchmarking against labour in other countries already includes for excessive executive pay. In fact in many of those countries the multiplier received by executive over the median employee is bigger than in Ireland.
            3) The executives are smaller group of people.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            OK, so *shouldn’t* we be talking about his wages if we think it’s appropriate to talk about whether the lower level employees in the same company are paid fairly or not? Gerry was saying they can’t afford the drivers demands. 172 people looking for a 4% raise this year. That works out at about 250k to 300k I think, not knowing about the different levels within that 172. If there are 5 people earning 250k (a huge wage) they could surely bump down to 200k and free up most, if not all, the money required to pay these working class Dubliners.

          6. classter

            Moyest, you start ‘Ok, so’ but then indicate you didn’t read what I said.

            I have no inside knowledge of the competence of Transdev executives but if Transdev have employed anybody half decent, they would resign if offered a pay cut of 20% in order to pay drivers fan increase far above other professions.

            Again, the executives are not striking & appealing for public sympathy.

            And lastly, compared to other salaries the Laus drivers are paid fairly imo.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I have no inside knowledge of the competence of Transdev executives”

            I don’t see why that’s relevant. You’re arguing that pay should be decided upon how replacable someone is, not how good they are at their job.

            “they would resign if offered a pay cut of 20%”

            So just replace them. It isn’t that hard to replace executives. Happens every day.

            “And lastly, compared to other salaries the Laus drivers are paid fairly imo”

            Obviously that’s merely your personal opinion. If they’re looking for more money, surely a conversation should be had about whether or not executives pay is unfairly high.

          8. Rowsdower

            I’m glad you can have a healthy laugh every now and then, seeing your previous posts you come across as a particular bitter and unhealthy individual, constantly seething with rage and ranting incoherently about imagined injustices being placed upon you.

          9. MoyestWithExcitement

            And you’re so incoherent with rage, you responded to the wrong message. Have a lie down, petal.

          10. Rowsdower

            Any of your messages is an appropriate place to respond to, they’re all the same uneducated ranting nonsense about fighting those evil corporations.

            Honestly, its no one else’s fault but your own that you have no skills or value to secure anything other than a minimum wage job. Stop taking your failures out on others, try and improve yourself. Somehow.

          11. MoyestWithExcitement

            It’s pretty gratifying to know I can provoke so much rage without even intending to in someone I’ve never met.

          12. Rowsdower

            Good for you I suppose finding such joy, I doubt I could ever experience a modicum of that emotional involvement in something like typing words on a website.

            But then again, I’m guessing we are both living very, very different lives.

          13. Rowsdower

            I’m a little concerned that you seem to associate anger with amusement.

            That must have caused some of the many issues you exhibit on here.

          14. MoyestWithExcitement

            You shouldn’t be worried. You’re providing a free public service. Your insane rants make everyone feel better about themselves. You should tell your mammy you deserve an extra roast potatoe for din dins this evening.

          15. Rowsdower

            Give your previous demonstrations of what you understand by Supply and Demand its hardly surprising to see your lack of knowledge also extends towards rage, anger and mental illness.

            Although, I doubt its just stupidity that is causing your issues.

          16. Rowsdower

            Moyest, do you think repeatedly saying “Dim-Witted” will stop people being able to read what you posted?

            I mean, its still there. Specifically when you tried to explain supply and demand in relation to the LUAS drivers.

            I know you probably regret saying it now, seeing it in the cold light of day, how incoherent and fundamentally wrong it was but please; I didn’t write it, you did. Stop taking your failures out on the rest of us.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          That’s not how it works. Does a philosophy student have a right to a higher wage than a luas driver when he graduates? Demand sets price.

          1. rotide

            You said it yourself. Demand sets price.

            Go and think about that while you bang on endlessly about this issue.

          2. classter

            He did make a point, Moyest, even if you disagree with it.

            If not constrained by employment law, Transdev could have trained up a completely fresh batch of drivers by now at the rates currently being offered.

            Part of the reason that the operational contract for the Luas was tendered was because of a perception that CIE’s unions had held the public to ransom for decades & provided a poor but expensive service in return.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            He really didn’t. Demand for luas serves is high, that demand is monetized and distributed amongst the people providing the service.

          4. classter

            Moyest, you need to brush up on supply & demand.

            It doesn’t mean what you think it means.

            The demand in this case, is the demand for fairly copped-on but relatively unskilled people willing to undergo driver training for a few weeks.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            And why is there demand for them? Because there’s demand for the service they provide. Seriously, that’s a shocking lack of economic understanding you are showing. You even say *we* ultimately pay their wages. That means *we* demand the service they give us.

          6. Robert

            They don’t “provide” anything. They’re just “involved” in its delivery.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Like most Socialists, Moyest’s grasp of economics is pretty tenuous”

            I’m not a socialist. Seems your knowledge of political theory and economics is pretty terrible.

          8. Robert

            Poor old Marx – if only he could see what his dream had become. Petty squabbling by the blue-collar workforce over a share of economic rent.

          9. classter

            ‘Because there’s demand for the service they provide’

            Fine, Moyest, but the point you don’t want to accept is that demand for the Luas drivers is not interchangeably associated with these particular drivers. It can be replaced fairly easily, like it or not. In fact, the likelihood is that they role could be replaced completely by automation within about a decade.

            The unions are intent on ensuring that when that big debate starts that the drivers have used up every ounce of goodwill that the public might have.

          10. classter

            For the record, I don’t believe that ‘most socialists’ have a tenuous grasp of economics.

          11. Rowsdower

            “For the record, I don’t believe that ‘most socialists’ have a tenuous grasp of economics.”

            Don’t think Moyest is even a socialist, just a complete moron.

          12. MoyestWithExcitement

            Marketing managers are 10 a penny. They’ll generally be paid more than a luas driver. There’s loads of people with law degrees, so they can be replaced. Everyone is replaceable. You don’t get paid on how replacable you are *mainly*, you get paid depending on how much demand there is from the public for what you create/provide. Supply side economics is a fallacy.

          13. classter

            Again, what you are describing is not ‘supply-side economics’.

            Your understanding of how pay is set is simplistic beyond belief.

          14. MoyestWithExcitement

            No, I’m saying what *you* are describing is supply side economics; the idea that money is created at the top and distributed downwards depending on a human perception of who is more “important”. That is just not how anything works.

          15. Rowsdower

            Moyest understanding of supply and demand is pretty funny.

            Its like watching a horse trying to ride a bike, he’ll give it his best shot but in the end, he’ll just end up confused and lost.

          16. MoyestWithExcitement

            Why don’t you tell the class how a fax machine repair man should get more money than a luas driver for having more skills, even though I body uses fax machines? You are so dim-witted it’s a little embarrassing.

          17. Rowsdower

            Ill try and interpret that rambling, incoherent gibberish that you just spewed out.

            Im guessing your asking why a hypothetical fax machine repairman should earn more than a LUAS driver and complaining about it seeming dim-witted? Well, that’s your fault, you brought up the example that was too complicated for you to understand.

            Ill try my best here with you, but I think I’m already fighting a losing battle. For example, I worked in a major investment bank in Canada. Every single sale or transfer of a Bond or Repo would require a physical signature of the compliance and risk officer on site. This means that a confirmation letter would have to be sent for signature and then sent back. The only quick and efficient way of doing this was with a fax machine(Which you seem to be under the impression no longer exists). This means that on any given trading floor you have somewhere in the area of 50 individual fax machines that would always need to be in perfect condition or working order. The people who have the skills to make sure they are in that perfect working order were paid handsomely for their time because of the valuable skills they had and for the way they brought them to their jobs in a quick and efficient manner.

            Presumably if anyone off the street could repair and maintain the specific different types of fax machines to the standard that would assure full continuity of service and quality of faxes(Quality being of the utmost importance as they were legally binding documents) then fax machine repair men would be paid less.

            But they couldn’t, so they aren’t.

            Not really that difficult to comprehend really but given that you seemed startled by the concept of fax machines, I don’t know what else I was expecting.

          18. MoyestWithExcitement

            Did you just write all that to tell me fax machines are still used by some people? Good God. You’re dumber than I realised. Sorry. I’ll go easy on you in future. I don’t like to mock the afflicted.

          19. Rowsdower

            Was there just too many words for you?

            Understandable, you do seem quite stupid.

          20. Rowsdower

            Yeah, knowledge does look frightening to the terminally stupid like you I suppose.

          21. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yes, I can only dream of having as much useless knowledge about fax machines as you, you winner. That bit about working in a Canadian bank literally made me “lol”. Fupping brilliant.

          22. Gary

            Our unequal education system ensures that it is in fact the fault of the state that a working class man from Phibsboro is more likely to have a minimum wage job than a privately educated Fionn from Blackrock. The workers in the trenches want a fairer slice of the pie and only those on the right wing side of society would begrudge them.

  1. Tish Mahorey

    Shareholders in many PLCs who also have deposits in various banks are suffering from low interest rates. So they are putting pressure on PLCs to reduce the pay of staff in order to increase their dividends.

    So they want to increase their profit, not by improving their service but by forcing workers to work for less.

    Same is happening with Tesco and other large PLCs where faceless large investors want their money no matter what the cost to staff and their families.

    1. Rowsdower

      They aren’t asking the workers to work for less, the workers are asking to be paid more for nothing.

  2. dav

    the class discrimination against the luas workers is frightening. They are seen as Untermensch by the irish media, as a whole, and it is with a tone of disbelief it is being reported that this subhumans are daring to fight to improve their lot.

    1. Tish Mahorey

      And a media of which a large portion is owned by [Redacted] and therefore paying the piper to play his tune and that of his mates.

      And IBEC would have you believe workers are the spawn of the devil.

    2. ollie

      The drivers took industrial action and were given what I consider to be a reasonable offer, although when an ex TD who was in the Dail for 5 years gets a pension for life of €19,000 maybe the drivers are right and the rest of us are wrong.

    3. MoyestWithExcitement

      You’re on the money here. The fact they’re comfortable using tactics from 100 years ago out in the open is the most worrying thing here. If they win, we’re all in trouble.

      1. Mr. Camomile T

        “Western Media: Rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people for all their problems.”

      2. classter

        What tactics from a 100 years ago are they using?

        Also just because somebody did something 100 years ago doesn’t make them invalid today.

          1. classter

            ‘Publicly demonising & threatening’ those with whom you are engaged in dispute is not from a 100 years ago, It is from the dawn of mankind.

            The (arguable) fact that Transdev are doing this is hardly worrying.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            It’s highly worrying. They’re doing it because they think they’ll get away with it. If they do, all of us are in trouble.

          3. classter

            ‘They’ll get away with it’ once the public filters what they hear from either side & then decides what they think makes sense.

            See how the public has turned on the Guards in recent years. The revelations of the whistleblowers kept coming & it was clear and persuasive. ‘Demonising’ the whistleblowers has not worked. Most of us believe that McCabe is a hero for what he has done.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            “They’ll get away with it’ once the public filters what they hear from either side & then decides what they think makes sense.”

            The public hear propaganda like ‘52%’ which was only for a small proportion of the drivers and included things like health care and extra days off for grieving, so it was never 52%. That’s another thing they’ve been doing actually; propaganda.

    4. Daisy Chainsaw

      When the crash happened in 2008, civil servants like myself were treated with the same contempt as the LUAS workers are now. We took substantial pay cuts, but were still called disgusting names and accused of doing nothing and being lucky to have a job. Thanks to social media and comments under articles we were able to set the record straight; that we weren’t on €900 a week after tax (HA! I wish!!) with hundreds of sick days and bank time. The media are doing the same stitch up job on the LUAS workers. Apparently they’re only monkeys pushing buttons. How very dare they look for a wage that will keep them and their families living to a decent standard!! I’m surprised we haven’t had the same bile directed at “only” 300 Tesco shelf stackers who are demanding to hold on to gold plated terms and conditions and who are holding over 12,000 jobs to ransom!

      Don’t believe the hype. Next time around the bile might be directed at your job.

      1. classter

        Do you honestly believe that none of that criticism direct at public sector workers was valid?

        I have a number of friends who have joined the civil service in the last two years. All of them, tbf, are smart conscientious people but they have (almpst gleefully) shared tales of work practices, holiday entiltements, clock-watching which wouldn’t have been accepted for 5minutes in their previous jobs.

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          Holiday entitlements? 22 days Clerical Officers get? How does the country run atall with that kind of luxury being thrown at them?

          1. classter

            Clerical officer is not the only grade of entry – as I’m sure you are well aware.

  3. Waddy Dilson

    “In 2013, the company’s EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization – a useful proxy for company profitability) were €1.54 million, while in 2014 they were €1.24 million.”

    Lost me there pal, EBITDA is not profit.

      1. Waddy Dilson

        He is using those figures disingenuously
        They are not a good indicator of profitability on their own. Not even slightly.
        Go take an IATI course or something and you might grasp the basics.

        1. Tish Mahorey

          Ebit is the starting point for deciding on a company’s viability. And you should learn to read what has been written, not what you want to have been written.

          1. Waddy Dilson

            It is not an indication of a company’s profitability which is what was written.
            And to your point, that would be one of MANY factors, if it was the only factor an awful lot of companies which are completely non viable would have been allowed to trade far beyond when they should have ceased.

  4. DubLoony

    The lack of public support for the workers is puzzling.
    Its almost normalized now that a full time job shouldn’t pay a decent living.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Irrelevant. I’m not trying to bully working class people on an average wage into submission. All the talk is about the Luas drivers wage. Well what’s Gerry’s?

          2. rotide

            Gerry Madden does a completely different job to the drivers so their wages are as comparable as yours are to the drivers.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            OK. So why are people comparing the drivers wage to doctors and nurses? How do we know he’s not being paid an unfairly high wage?

          4. rotide

            The guy you are agreeing with is comparing them to doctors and nurses actually.

            How do we know yoiu aren’t getting paid an unfairly high wage to waste your emplyers time and sit here preaching to us?

            I want to know what you earn.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            OK. If you’re going ask me the same question twice, I’ll give you the same answer twice. “Irrelevant. I’m not trying to bully working class people on an average wage into submission. All the talk is about the Luas drivers wage. Well what’s Gerry’s?”

            Now go troll someone else.

          6. pluto

            rotide your views only serve to shoot yourself in the foot. With your current standpoint on the Luas strike it appears that you would happily pass up the opportunity to improve the conditions of your own pay if such an event were to occur. ”No thanks Mr/Mrs Manager. I happily scrape by each month honestly very generous of you..thanks but no thanks.”

          7. rotide

            Don’t know where you’re getting that from pluto. My wage negotiations involve my worth to the company and I always have an option of taking my worth elsewhere.

            Transdev have satisfied all luas workers except the drivers. they have been offered a raise which they turned down. They now have the option of seeing if they are worth more to the company (hint, they aren’t unfortunately) or going elsewhere.

            I genuinely had sympathy for them untill they chose to try to strike on st patricks weekend and did strike on the centenery weekend. All sympathy went out the window then.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            If Gerry is saying they can’t afford to pay the drivers more, I think the amount of money he earns is important information.

          2. Rowsdower

            Yeah, and while we’re at it, if they cant afford to pay the drivers more why don’t they cut other things to like health and safety?

          3. Daisy Chainsaw

            I’d rather they cut incompetent executives like Gerry. He can’t even handle a few button pushing monkey drivers.

      1. DubLoony

        I ran 32K salary as a single person through this tax calculator. http://services.deloitte.ie/tc/
        Net salary would be €2,214.00

        This is a list of average cost of living prices in Dublin
        http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp?country=Ireland&city=Dublin

        A 1 bed apt is 1,200, leaving 1000 per month for food, utilities, and rest of life, it doesn’t look so much.
        Even a modest flat share at 800pm eats up a chunk of change.
        Not even going to consider a mortgage because its just not possible on that wage.

        Contrast that with Dublin Bus driver in the 70s who could buy a house in Tallaght and have family on one income.

        1. Waddy Dilson

          No one said they have to rent in the city or even close. I’m on an average wage and don’t rent in the city for the very reason that it is too high.

          Apart from that, on their salary they can afford to buy a house.

        2. classter

          It is true that there is a problem with cost of living in Dublin. It was one of the biggest failings of the FG/Lab govt imo that they did little to tackle this.

          Paying one group of transport workers significantly more than other workers does not solve this problem.

          1. LW

            Yes, but it could solve it for the Luas drivers, which is presumably why they’re striking

      2. diddy

        32k? go to a bank and ask for a basic unit of living accommodation with that salary and see where you get. 40k in Dublin is still working poor once rent/mortgages are factored in.. And if you have kids? what then/

  5. Waddy Dilson

    “In addition, Irish profits are likely to rise significantly when the Red and Green lines are joined in 2017. And given that Transdev is reportedly considering bidding for bus routes when they are put out to tender later this year, they obviously still view Ireland as a lucrative transport market.”

    “Are likely to rise” – Please do not come up with this nonsense, and don’t copy paste items related to turnover when you don’t understand it. Income will rise, but so will variable costs as well initial investment costs. It will be a long time if at all before that linkup generates anything resembling a profit.

    1. BobbyJ

      Investment costs? The state owns the lines and the trams. What investment cost will Transdev incur with the Red & Green link up?

    2. some old queen

      Initial investment costs are funded by the state, not the operator. Transdev’s profits WILL rise because they are not contracted to build or maintain, only operate. How old (or new) the lines are is of no relevance.

      Get your facts straight before sniping at other posters please.

      1. Waddy Dilson

        Are you telling me there are no initial investment costs, no asset costs on the books of Transdev?
        Just to be clear, please ensure that is exactly what you are stating as fact.

        1. some old queen

          Within the operational contract there may be minor investment costs with timetables and schedules changes etc but you inferred this was somehow linked to the actual design and build. It is most definitively not.

  6. MoyestWithExcitement

    Is there any way of finding out what Gerry Madden and the other executives earn?

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Can’t seem to find it. Does anyone reading know how much Gerry Madden and other Transdev executives earn?

    1. wearnicehats

      http://www.solocheck.ie/Irish-Company/Transdev-Ireland-Limited-427823

      Pay some money and find out

      Although, given that all you want to bang on about is poor oppressed “working class people” you’ll probably wait until someone else pays for it. What is your definition of working class, incidentally?

      Maybe Jack O’Connor could chip in a few of his 110,000 euro to help out. Or People before Profit – they seem to care too. I hope Transdev keep going otherwise it will be like the 70s all over again

      I would like to say though that Shane Ross has been shown himself to be a complete and utter joke compared to all his big talk pre election

  7. Fact Checker

    What is the profitability of Transdev’s Irish operations as a ratio of its equity? My guess is the equity is not massive as they don’t own the trams themselves.

    Honestly don’t know. Just asking.

  8. some old queen

    Jimmy’s last point is spot on. Why the need for the middle company at all. Would those profits not be put to better use increasing the standard of living for the workers or maybe even just fund a few new hospital beds? There is no real reason for Transdev to be involved the operations of Luas at all.

    1. b

      that’s a massive assumption that if transdev was publically run there would be profits to distribute at the end

      1. some old queen

        A ‘not for profit’ operator does not mean under the control of CIE because that is where the real problem you mention lies.

    2. Robert

      So what about the case of the semi-states Irish Rail and Bus Eireann which are very definitely not profit making. The lads are still going on strike there and we’re subsidising it.

    3. classter

      Except that when these services were run differently (as a semi-state) they have been taken over by the unions.

      Expensive, irregular, dirty services were the result.

  9. fluffybiscuits

    While I think their demands are outlandish personally I still back them and for a good reason. This is about bringing employers to heal who are eroding workers rights. Tesco and Dunnes with their ad hoc zero hour contracts. We set a precedent and employers are scared shitless….Fully behind the drivers (althought I would have said 15% was more realistic of an ask in pay increase!!)

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Are you not ultimately paying their wages as well? That seemed to be an important point you mentioned further up the page?

        1. classter

          Yes, which is why the point on what is reasonable matters.

          Forcing workers to accept zero hours contracts is cruel & makes life much harder for those employees (uncertainty, inability to get a mortgage, etc.). It is a serious diminshment of their emloyment rights, whatever the actual level of pay.

          Everything I have heard about the Luas dispute indicates that the drivers were being unreasonable. I don’t actually understand why a salary well in excess of that received by many nurses/doctors/engineers/lawyers/guards/truck drivers/etc. is not acceptable.

  10. ahjayzis

    Pretty much summarises my own thoughts on it.

    We don’t get outraged when the people providing capital to the company get a pay hike (shareholders)
    Nor the people providing executive leadership when they get showered in bonuses (execs)

    Just the peope providing their labour, the least important ones in any Tram company – the ones who drive the trams and inspect the tickets, who are greedy for wanting a bigger slice of a growing pie. Funny that.

    Also #Heya, isn’t this the ridiculously photogenic Jimmy from #GE16?

    #gerrup

      1. ahjayzis

        Care to link me to a comment piece or a forum debate around Transdev exec bonuses?

        1. classter

          They tendered to deliver the service for a certain cost & under certain conditions. They have being doing that (current strikes notwithstanding).

          So, if the shareholders decide to pay them too much, that is their choice.

    1. Robert

      It’s hardly “labour” though, in any real sense? Compared to lets say a carpenter? Or a factory worker? It’s just “time”.

      1. ahjayzis

        So compensation should be based on how the extent of physical exertion?

        For everyone or just tram drivers? If everyone, why pick on these guys when lawyers and CEOs and engineers and broadcasters are clearly the worst transgressors?

        1. Robert

          “lawyers and CEOs and engineers and broadcasters” could drive a Luas, but not the other way round.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Also, any idiot can be a CEO with a bit of luck and the right connections.

          2. Robert

            Any idiot? Why aren’t you or the Luas drivers getting jobs as CEOs then? Would certainly be a better situation all round.

      2. BobbyJ

        I’d have thought that being responsible for operating a vehicle capable of transporting up to 358 passengers at a time would constitute “labour”

  11. Andrew

    “They also spoke passionately about how unfair it is that a worker is paid less in the private sector than the public sector for doing fundamentally the same work.”

    I agree it is unfair but this does apply across a huge number of sectors.

    People have become very anti-union in this country.They don’t seem to realise that that this disunity effects everyone’s working conditions

    1. Robert

      There’s disunity because of the simple fact that not everybody has a stranglehold over a public amenity to get what they want. If luas fairs go up will the drivers subsidise the fares (out of “solidarity”) for low paid workers who don’t have this angle to exploit?

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Why don’t the executives forgo some of their 6 figure bonuses or take a drop in wages to free up the money needed for the drivers pay rise?

        1. Robert

          I don’t know, why don’t you ask them?

          But how many executives exactly? And how much of a pay cut? Just to get an idea of the numbers you’re talking about …

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            “will the drivers subsidise the fares (out of “solidarity”) for low paid workers who don’t have this angle to exploit?”

            Why aren’t you asking if the execs will subsidise the drivers out of their wages?

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            Really? So you know how many executives there are and how much they’re earning? Can you link that information please?

          3. Robert

            So you’re saying that, even if your ludicrous straw man did stand up – then the Luas drivers would themselves be willing to subsidize other less empowered members of the workforce?

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            Sorry, I’ll answer your question once you afford me the courtesy of answering mine. You said that executives taking a pay cut wouldn’t cover the raise the drivers are after. I asked you to provide that information you must have. Any chance of it?

        2. Weldoninhio

          Why would the execs forego the renumeration that they signed a contract to make, just because the drivers are refusing to work to the conditions of the contract that they signed??

          Hopefully Transdev sack the lot of them soon. They’d hopefully be able to bring in workers from their operations abroad to keep the Luas running for the 6 weeks it takes to train up new workers, then the previous workers will get to see how big a mortage they can get for E188 a week for the forseeable future. I know I wouldn’t be hiring anyone with Luas Driver on their CV.

          1. Daisy Chainsaw

            What company do you run? Just so I know to avoid it due to your disdain of workers and their rights.

    2. classter

      It has long been accepted that Bus Eireann / Irish Rail / DART drivers were overpaid & that ministers were useless at dealing with unreasonable union demands.

      This is why the Luas contract was privatised.

      The left in Ireland needs to wake up. If they really believe in public services, they will need to help ensure that services are actually being delivered to the public. Representing the public sector workers alone is not nearly enough.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        “they will need to help ensure that services are actually being delivered to the public.”

        Then we need to have private involvement in those services at an absolute minimum. Our resources should not exist to line the pockets of millionaires.

        1. Robert

          “Our resources should not exist to line the pockets of millionaires.”

          Different question.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            It’s the same question. Services exist to benefit us all and should be owned by us all, not a private individual who will make cuts to the service if it threatens his massive income.

          2. Robert

            But it’s okay for those entrusted to run it to abuse that trust to line their own pockets?

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            No, that’s obviously my point here. Gerry Madden and the execs get paid way too much. The people actually driving the trams we’re using should be getting a lot more than a bunch of desk monkeys.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            I don’t think too many people would regard 600 a week as a crust. How much is Gerry earning?

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            You said earlier that you knew his cost cut wouldn’t cover the raise drivers want. So I can take it you were lying about that, yeah?

          6. Robert

            What I said (in another thread, you poor confused sap) is


            But how many executives exactly? And how much of a pay cut? Just to get an idea of the numbers you’re talking about …

            It was an enquiry rather than a statement, and one you were unable to answer. I would think before you would take the drastic step of bringing public infrastructure to a halt you would have a better grasp of such facts as would support your argument.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            You seem to be mixed up and a tad emotional.

            I asked;
            “Why aren’t you asking if the execs will subsidise the drivers out of their wages?”

            You answered
            “I would, but I know it wouldn’t cover it.”

            So you’re saying now you actually *don’t* know if it would cover it thereby directly contradicting what you said?

        2. classter

          ‘Our resources should not exist to line the pockets of millionaires.’

          I agree but again in too many instances, in too many ways non-privatised public services are not delivering – see HSE, civil service, CIE,

          Time & time again, union involvement seems to lead only to increased pay & benefits for public workers with a drop in accountability & service (rememeber the one-way benchmarking?). Can you point to success stories?

          The Unions in Germany & Scandinavia have been much more pragmatic & balanced. They seem to see themselves as advocating for the long-term benefit of workers & society rather than merely getting what they can for their current lot. German unions supported some quite drastic measures in the 90’s.

          So if the left doesn’t ensure that quality services are delivered, there will be no public support & privatisation will be more & more of a feature.

          1. classter

            On that point, it is not an accident that Thatcher was able to come in & impose rather a radical agenda on the UK. The public was absolutely fed up with intransigent unions.

          2. Kieran NYC

            Agreed. SIPTU is really shooting itself in the foot here.

            And their spokesperson for the issue is quite obnoxious to boot.

          3. Sullery

            You’re not wrong IMO, but remember the Luas isn’t public sector. The Luas workers have more in common with workers in Tesco than in CIÉ.

          1. Rowsdower

            Im sorry but what should someone without a degree or special qualifications expect to earn for their unskilled labour?

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            Depends on how much demand there is for their job. Seriously, supply side economics is fupping stupid. What if I spent a couple of years learning how to be a fax machine repair man. Should I get more money cause I have a piece of paper? Utterly stupid.

          3. Rowsdower

            If you are the only one who can repair the fax machine, then yes, you get paid for having those extra skills.

            What part of education and skills seems to confuse your gentle little brain so much?

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            Really? Even though nobody uses fax machines anymore and my phone will never ring for my fax repair services, I should just get more money than a luas driver? Do you have trouble tieing your shoe laces?

          5. Daisy Chainsaw

            Most degrees aren’t worth the parchment they’re printed on. What if a LUAS driver has a degree? Should s/he be paid more than their less educated colleagues?

          6. classter

            Moyest, what is your obsession with fax machines?

            If there is little demand for fax machines, then I would guess that the pay of fax machine repairmen is likely to fall. Unless the numbers of those willing to train up to be fax repairmen falls more quickly than the demand for fax machine repair.

            If fax machine repair was particularly boring or dirty, you might find that it’d be hard to retain fax machine repairmen & pay might be a little bit higher.

          7. Rowsdower

            Remember when Moyest was trying to explain supply and demand earlier on by saying there is lots of Lawyers so they shouldn’t be paid much?

            Oh lordy, I had a nice chuckle at that one. What will he say next!

          8. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Moyest, what is your obsession with fax machines?”

            That’s a bizarre way of describing an analogy but ok. I don’t really understand the relevance of the rest of your post. I’m making the point that demand for your service dictates your pay; not how long you trained for or skills you learned to provide that service. Your post appears to have nothing to do with that point.

          9. Rowsdower

            Moyest still hasn’t figured out demand yet, in case anyone’s still watching.

          10. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Remember when Moyest was trying to explain supply and demand earlier on by saying there is lots of Lawyers so they shouldn’t be paid much?”

            Buddy, you’re litetally seeing things that aren’t there now. Give that lie down I recommended some serious consideration like a good lad.

          11. Rowsdower

            “There’s loads of people with law degrees, so they can be replaced”

            Your own words; I know, they look and sound stupid and you can be forgiven for hearing them away from the source and thinking “Christ, that sounds so stupid no one could possibly think that” and I agree but they are; as I said, your words. Its no ones fault but your own.

          12. MoyestWithExcitement

            Uh huh. People with law degrees. Not lawyers. Also I was responding to someone saying luas drivers can certainly replaced. Context, lad. This is hilarious.

  12. Robert

    “Luas Drivers wages are ‘significantly lower than those of Dart, Suburban or Irish Rail Mainline drivers’.”

    This is the nub of it. They do think they deserve equivalence.

    Whether being a luas driver is equivalent is debatable. Whether the other guys are overpaid is also debatable.

    But what I do have to ask is, if they want to be paid as a Dart, Suburban or Irish Rail Mainline driver then why don’t they apply for a job as one and make way for the next guy. Seems like fairly reasonable career progression to me …

    1. ahjayzis

      In fairness, and I’ve no idea what either job entails – but train drivers don’t have to negotiate traffic.

        1. ahjayzis

          In what way would it benefit you to see whole categories of workers paid less living a lower standard of life? What way does that improve the businesses they spend their money in? The tax the state takes in to provide services?

          Why do you want people to be poorer and how does that improve society?

          1. Robert

            Why are you putting words in my mouth. You know not everybody is either “with you or against you”. You implied that a train drivers job is easier than a luas driver’s (I know that because of various operational reasons it isn’t) and a naive inference from that is that they should be paid less.

  13. Jake38

    “Over the past twelve years, the Luas service has been a stunning success..”

    Exactly. Which is why it should be kept as far away from public “service” unions at all possible costs.

    1. some old queen

      I am at the risk of repeating myself here but a public operator does not have to mean CIE. What is wrong with TII doing it themselves ?

      1. classter

        It doesn’t have to mean CIE.

        TII don’t currently have the scale or expertise to do it themselves. What are the indications that if they did take this on themselves that they would do it better or cheaper than Transdev? Or that they would moderate wage growth any better than Transdev? Or indeed CIE?

        1. some old queen

          The ‘expertise’ is minimum and a lot less than a heavy rail system. There are plenty of light rail systems world wide which are efficiently operated AND maintained by state sectors. There is no real reason why it cannot be done here. For the most part it is just scheduling ffs.

          The majority of the original Luas was designed and built by CIE and despite the media slanting at the time, it was both within the original schedule and budget. But facts like this do not fit the privatizsation narrative of course.

          I suggest you go educate yourself before throwing out any more clichés. https://weownit.org.uk/

  14. SB

    What does the parent company’s profitability have to do with it? Do the drivers see the parent as a slush fund?

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      If the parent company was non-profitable, the workers who generate the profit would be first to be penalised at the expense of overpaid executives and shareholders.

      1. Rowsdower

        Shareholders dividends are paid out from the profits, if a company isn’t profitable then the shareholders are always the first to be punished.

      2. MoyestWithExcitement

        Which is why trickle down economics is a total lie. If money is created at the top, savings should start at the top.

  15. Clampers Outside!

    ” But what we can be sure of is that the shareholders are getting their fair share – why not the workers? ”

    Because they are employees, not shareholders.
    I went to college me.

  16. rotide

    200 comments.

    Well done Moyest, You are the hero bodger needs, not the one he deserves!

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Thanks. You obsessive trolls give me lots of ammunition. Bodger, we need to talk about a split of ad revenue. Clickity click.

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      Clampers, outside, now!

      -What is your problem?
      -If you put as much effort into doing your own job as you do into undermining other people’s jobs we’d all be better off, especially your boss.

      I like you, but sometimes you’re insufferable.
      It’s actually easier and reflects better on you if you know when to STFU, but you never do, do you?

  17. Garbo

    Everything On The Line – 208 comments.

    Thanks for an entertaining afternoon Lads & Lassies

  18. Truth in the News

    If the LUAS workers were Bankers or Politicans would there be any problem
    about what they are paid, the operation of the service was to avoid union
    repsentation and drive payroll costs down and profits up, at stake here is the
    future of privatisation in Ireland hence the entrenched position of Transdev
    hidden behind the scenes is Veolia, the outfit that would like to get hold of our
    water resources and that have a leg in already.

  19. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    Excuse me Truth in the News, but we’ll have no trouble here.
    -This is a reactionary site, for reactionary people.
    -We’ll have no common decency or logical thinking here, thank you very much.

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