Trade union chiefs and Luas bosses have been urged to restart negotiations on workers’ pay in a last-ditch attempt to avert a two-day strike due to kick in at 5.30am on Thursday.
Up to 90,000 commuters, school children and other passengers will be hit each day if the industrial action cannot be cancelled or deferred.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said he has no power to offer Luas operator Transdev more money to meet drivers’ demands for pay rises which run from 8% to 53%, depending on length of employment.
A repeat two-day strike is already planned for next week, on February 18-19.
“If this action goes ahead as planned, significant disruption will be caused to those who have come to depend on Luas to get to work and about their daily business,” Mr Donohoe said.
Negotiations have previously broken down following hearings at the Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Commission.
Mr Donohoe hit out at the planned industrial action, which has the support of 99% of drivers, traffic supervisors, revenue protection officers and supervisors in the Siptu trade union.
“Strike action does not serve the company, the staff or service users well,” the minister said.
“I am asking unions and management to re-engage in discussions on the basis of reasonable negotiations so that strike action can be avoided and Luas can continue to serve commuters across our city in the weeks to come.”
Luas union representatives claim the company pay scales mean drivers can work for nine years and hit a salary of 42,247 euro compared with 47,941 euro for traffic supervisors.
They claim the operators are returning profits each year and have asked for 10,000 euro pay rises for traffic supervisors, increases of 10% to 14% for the revenue protection officers and supervisors who check tickets, and hikes for the 172 drivers which would take their top level of pay to 64,993 euro.
Transdev said the claims would cost the company more than 20 million euro over five years.
It is planning for normal service to resume at 6.30am on Saturday morning and apologised to customers for the inconvenience.
“Transdev remind customers that although there is no tram service it is against the law to trespass on Luas tracks and property. The overhead lines will be live and maintenance will be working on parts of the system,” the company said.