Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy has said ongoing Luas strike action is a “good thing”.
For two days over the weekend, Luas services did not run because of a row between drivers and Luas operator Transdev over pay.
Mr Murphy, speaking to the Irish Examiner, said the fight for equal pay is a welcome development in Ireland.
“The industrial action is a good thing, it marks the legitimate battle for fair wages in this country. Ireland is predominantly a low-wage economy,” he said.
Mr Murphy also moved to deny he and his colleagues have been “whipping up” unrest among Luas workers.
Union sources have suggested to the Irish Examiner that Mr Murphy and others in the AAA have encouraged a hardening of stance among drivers, who rejected pay increases of up to 18% over 33 months.
The AAA was the only party to issue a public press statement in full support of the Luas drivers’ position, and members of the alliance have also been present on the picket line during the recent stoppages.
“No, there is no truth in that,” said Mr Murphy. “A 99% rejection rate of the deal cannot simply be put down to agitation by people like me or others on the left. It was driven by a genuine desire for wage equality among Luas drivers.”
Another two days of industrial action is planned for later this month.
The dispute escalated on Friday when Kieran Mulvey, head of the Workplace Relations Commission, rejected calls from Siptu general president Jack O’Connor to resign after he criticised the union’s actions.
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said the Fawlty Towers approach to the strike has taken industrial relations back 30 years, with the ordinary commuter paying the price for the dispute.
Writing in the Sunday Business Post, Mr Hayes said: “Agreement is not helped by an over-the-top response that attacks the very people who are core to the viability of that transport business — the travelling public. Neither is it helped by calling on Kieran Mulvey to resign after his useful intervention.”
Meanwhile, Transdev apologised to customers.
It said: “Transdev wish to apologise to Luas customers for the disruption to Luas services this weekend.
“We strongly urge Siptu to re-engage with the management and conclude an agreement that is within the limits of the available company resources.
“To continue to strike is unfair to Luas customers, the travelling public, and business.”
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