Crunch talks agreed in bid to stop Luas strikes on 'important' public holidays
Crunch talks have been agreed with the country's top industrial relations mediators to prevent crippling Luas strikes on major public celebrations.
Trade union chiefs at Siptu and operators of the tram network Transdev are to hold negotiations next week to prevent stoppages on St Patrick's Day and Easter Sunday.
Drivers and other workers have cancelled strikes planned for March 8 to allow for talks in the Workplace Relations Commission.
Transport M inister Paschal Donohoe said the other threatened stoppages could hit days which are crucial for Dublin.
"Strike action in recent weeks seriously inconvenienced commuters and cost local businesses and the company dearly," he said.
"The recent escalation of the dispute, which would see the service out of operation on important public holidays, will have a significant negative impact on our tourist industry and on the Dublin economy at what is a crucial time for our city."
On the planned talks, Mr Donohoe said: "I sincerely hope that this signals an intention to resolve the matter so that regular services, without interruption, can be resumed."
Workers' representatives have been championing salary hikes of 8% to 53% depending on the employees and their years of service.
They claim pay scales mean drivers can work for nine years and hit a salary of 42,247 euro or 47,941 euro for traffic supervisors.
Transdev, which operates Luas under a contract with the state, has pulled bonuses worth up to 750,000 euro for the workforce of 250 but said it remains open to pay rises albeit closer to the 1%-3% mark.
The company is facing penalties of more than 100,000 euro every day services do not run.
Transdev said it welcomed the opportunity to work with Siptu's proposal for talks but it warned the negotiations will be difficult and long, given the scale of the pay claims.