Messages of Support for The Luas Workers from poets, writers, artists, academics, activists etc

paul kirby


We’ll hold this line until Hell freezes over — Then we’ll hold it on ice skates.—Anonymous, picket sign

The Bogmans Cannon supports the Luas Workers in their struggle for decent pay, pensions and working conditions. We condemn the threat of scab labour and strike-breaking tactics by Transdev and Fine Gael and call on all our friends and supporters to do likewise. Below are some voices from the artist/activists community raised in support of the Luas Workers and against the campaign of villification in the state and corporate mass media. Send three or four sentences in support of the Luas Workers to if you would like to appear on this page. Find us on Facebook here.

Dave Lordan, Founding Editor,

Contributors names appear under their Contributions

A victory for the Luas Workers will be a victory for every worker in the country. Ordinary workers across the board have had their incomes slaughtered since 2008. with pay freezes, austerity taxes and the rising cost of living. We need to break this mould and demand decent pay for ordinary workers. We need to give all our support to the Luas Workers, not just for their sake but for the sake of all workers.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD

I support the LUAS workers. They continue to stand firm against the bully tactics employed by Transdev. LUAS workers have already lost their annual bonuses and had their pay docked for voting for strike action. Transdev are using financial warfare tactics to intimidate their employees (and their families – who will ofcourse be most affected by the loss of income to the household). This corporate tactic against the (relatively) poor is depressingly typical, and I find it putrid. I read that Transdev will have to pay 100’000euro per day in state fines for failing to provide the service, and that it is estimated the St Patrick’s Day strike will cost Dublin city 50million euro. Perhaps a little taste of their own medicine might help them to reach some level of empathy with their workforce? I write that last line with my tongue stabbed into my cheek, seeing corporations in general tend to struggle with the likes of empathy, and the little quirks of human beings (such as expecting fair wages & a decent standard of living, that sort of thing).
May the LUAS workers continue to hold their stance and not be bullied, and may the workforce of the country pay attention with keen interest!

Abby Oliveira, Poet

Over 100 years since men died on the streets of Dublin fighting for workers rights and the media narrative is still the same – striking is selfish, striking is unfair on ‘ordinary working people.’ Where would the ordinary people be if not for those who striked in the first place? The Luas workers want their fair share of the profit Veolia is making thanks to their hard work. Veolia, gigantic global corporation that it is, can afford to reward its workers. And we can’t afford to support scab labour either. If we accept it in this case we risk entering an Irish future where solidarity no longer exists.I support the Luas workers right to strike as I support all workers right to strike.

Colm Keegan, Poet

Striking appears to be the only avenue left to the Luas workers, who are seeking decent renumeration for the service they provide, under stressful conditions, while keeping hundreds of people safe daily. Considering the job they do, it is not unreasonable to ask for the same salary as Irish Rail staff. They do far more than their job description appears to cover. These workers have not seen a basic pay increase (outside of their increment) since 2008/9 and those who reached the top of their scale will have seen nothing. There may not be an opportunity for a pay increase until 2020 and bonuses will be lost too. Another example of why privatisation of services is often detrimental to the workforce. The ordinary person takes the brunt, again. Solidarity and the best of luck.

Barbara O’Donnell, Poet and Editor at

Dear Irish Luas workers, brothers and sisters,

As as fellow Irishwoman I have read about your situation. I believe you are right to go out on strike and I applaud you. Your current conditions belong to our less privileged brothers and sisters, not 21st century Ireland. I hope you manage to gain additional privileges and not to be penalised further. I wish you every strength in the testing days to come. Sincerely – your sister.

Kate O’Donnell, London E17 & member of Unison

Over a hundred years ago, William Martin Murphy used scab labour against the Dublin transport workers in his campaign to break the power of trade unions. Jim Larkin and James Connolly organised the workers’ resistance throughout the Dublin Lockout. Let us ensure that Dublin transport workers today are supported in their just demands for a proper share of the enormous private profits derived from their labour. “Power concedes nothing without demand; it never did, and it never will” – US African-American anti-slavery leader Frederick Douglass, 1845.

Donal O Kelly, Writer

The struggle between workers and employers is a permanent and defining feature of our world, and we should not kid ourselves that management and government do not spend every day trying to conjure up new ways to wring every last drop of profit out of us. The mainstream mass media would have us believe that strikes are entirely unnecessary and that the market will take care of everything, but the truth is that the market is rigged, and strikes are absolutely necessary even just for working conditions and living standards to tread water. I therefore cheerfully and wholeheartedly support the LUAS workers in their actions.

Jay Spencer Green, Writer

Ní oireann príobhádú don chóras iompair. Cabhraigh leis na fir chróga seo atá ag streachailt chun morgáiste a íoc agus bia a chur ar an mbord dá gclann in ardchathair atá chomh costasach sin, daoine atá sásta seasamh a dhéanamh i gcoinne na bulaíochta. Céad bliain níos sia ar aghaidh, tá Ó Conghaile, an fínín sóisialach ag iompú thart go míchompordach ag breathnú ar na húdaráis atá sásta gach seirbhís phoiblí a dhíol ar mhaithe le pinginí suaracha.

Ciarán Kelly, ceoltóir

I believe that every worker has the right to unionise and take strike action. They know the true value of their labour and I support their actions.

Lewis Kenny, Poet

Luas strikes are inconvenient. But what is a greater inconvenience – having to cycle or walk or bus it into town on a national holiday, or being complicit in a culture which prioritises bottom line profits for the oligarchy at the expense of citizens’ rights to earn a living wage? In this year of commemorations, I try to remind myself that the Rising was carried out not just by republicans, but by socialists who wanted a fairer world for working people.

Mia Gallagher, writer

The establishment campaign against the Luas strikers has been vociferous, and unfortunately unprecedented in its success. It’s managed to turn a large portion of the public against the workers through spin and “what aboutery”. The Luas workers have never for a second contended they deserve to be paid more than any other worker – they have a right to pursue better conditions for themselves, as should all workers. Transport workers in this country have historically been at the forefront of securing workers rights through strike action. Rights that ALL of us now enjoy. For this reason, and to balance the one sided media campaign against them, I fully and wholeheartedly support the Luas workers in their strike action.

Frankie Gaffney, Writer

Re the Luas strikers and the 1916 Rising commemorations. A country that puts pageantry before its people cares more about the dead than the living. I support every worker’s right to union protection, to protest, and to strike.

Peter Murphy, Writer

I know who forced my family into emigration. I know who sent my generation spiraling into hopelessness. I know who it is that makes the lives of working and unemployed families a misery. It wasn’t the LUAS workers. They provide an invaluable service to society and they should be supported in their fight.

Oisin O Fagan, writer

To review the media coverage & reaction towards our striking Luas workers, the casual observer might conclude that we’re dealing with animal sacrificers, kidnappers or armed thieves. In the eyes of our mainstream media & their cronies, ordinary workers who stand firm on their right to better conditions seems to be on a par with those things.
The last thing our society needs is to be more divisive. I stand with the Luas workers in their pursuit of fairness and encourage everyone to do the same.

Eoin Ó Faogáin Activist

I saw a photo of a great banner once from a May Day march in the USA. It read ‘Welcome to the Weekend – brought to you by Organised Labor’ . I thought it was one of the snappiest explanations I’d seen about why it is necessary for workers to organise and unionise. The Irish Media’s treatment of the Luas workers is a living example of the famous piece of advice from Malcom x who said ‘“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” What on earth is wrong with wanting to be well paid? To be respected in your workplace? Our media goes into paroxysms of fawning celebration of ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘wealth creators’ who all invariably profit from other people’s work or custom. It is fine for anyone except a wage earner to be wealthy according to our media. I think we should all should be doing what the Luas workers are doing, getting organised, standing up for ourselves and insisting that a wage or a salary for a decent week’s work should be sufficient to provide a decent standard of living. At the moment in Ireland this is not the case. Try living on the minimum wage. Try raising a family on the average industrial wage. Both are almost impossible. There’s only one side of this argument to be on. I support the Luas workers.

Sarah Clancy, Poet and Bogmans Cannon Irish People’s Poetry Champion

It is not unreasonable for the working people of Ireland, the people who have born the brunt of the austerity measures imposed by the European Union’s undemocratic executive council, to expect to earn a decent wage that affords a comfortable life for them and their children. What is unreasonable is that massive pay gaps between workers and directors are tolerated and that when one group steps out of line, the powers that be kick into gear to put them back in their place. People power is the only power.

Morgan O Reilly, Independent Broadcaster

I support the Luas workers’ strike because their demands are reasonable and just. I deplore unconditionally the strike-breaking tactics adopted by management.

Raymond Deane – Composer 

I fully support the LUAS drivers current action. Threatening people with scab labour has no place in a modern society. If the bosses win this one it’ll be you and me they come for next. Therefore, I urge people to be brave and ignore all the lies and slander in the media and get behind the LUAS drivers one hundred per cent. We’re all dead if you don’t.

Camillus John, Writer

All solidarity for their courage and tenacity

Margaretta d’arcy,  Writer

I support the striking workers because while I cannot speak on behalf of others, my mother reared me better than to cross a picket line.

Christy Gaffney, Poet

I believe in the LUAS workers right to take action and fight for a living wage. I believe in a fairer world for all working people regardless of what profession or path you take. Solidarity to the cause.

Brian Mc Namara, Producer & DJ

I support the Luas workers strikes because every working person should be treated fairly, paid fairly and given respect for what they have to do for a living. We should all be equal in the working world, no matter what job title you hold or what class you fit into.
I support the Luas workers strike as everyone should feel like they can strike against unfair working conditions.  I support the Luas workers strike because it strengthens every workers’  voice and allows them to speak up against injustice.

Hazel Hogan, Poet

I remember being a kid in the 80’s and waiting 30 mins for a bus to take you home.
Since the luas came in 10 years ago, I’ve used it on an almost daily basis, I love its efficency
and ease of use and access, I don’t even mind the fare going up by 10c a year, I do mind that the drivers and other staff are getting shafted, that the people who make and keep the great service going and running smoothly, unlike those 1980’s buses, are living on broken promises and not seeing the benefits of those yearly price hikes. Who is I ask you? Up the workers, up the men and woman who work on holidays and get me to and from my home to work and nights out and back home again,  may they stay strong in their stance.

Karl Parkinson, Poet

Back in the 80s in the UK the crucial sundering of working class strength was the defeat of the miners. I remember the support badges we wore at the time included most memorably ones that said ‘We’ll Not Always Be Poor But They’ll Always Be Scabs.’ Different decade, same battle. Just off a twelve hour shift. It’s one fight. We truly are all in this together. Someone is finally standing up and that’s the best poem I’ve heard in a long time.

Joe Horgan, Poet

I support the Luas workers because, first of all, a strike always deserves support. Workers don’t give up their wages without giving it serious thought and without a serious grievance. Secondly I support the Luas workers because the fight they are fighting is one we should all be fighting, against the corruption of this mickey-mouse state of ours, with its pet bankers and pet money-lenders and pet politicians, and always in the background the giant multinationals waiting to pick up the takings. This is a country that is up to its ears in debt because we let these bastards get away with it.

William Wall, Writer

I’m a worker, raised by workers, and I’d sooner have a drink with a Luas worker than their bosses or our Fine Gael ‘representatives’. The Luas workers are demonstrating the spirit that brought independence to Ireland in the first place; using their voices to access a better life for themselves and their loved ones. It’s obvious to me, as it should be to any thinking person, that the strategy of management and our government with regard to the Luas workers is to shame them publicly rather than treat them like people and dialogue with them; it’s they, those in charge, who should be ashamed.

Susan Millar DuMars, Writer

I fully support the LUAS workers because it is time the trade unions joined with the anti-water tax protesters to make further austerity measures impossible for either government or employers to impose. I will be in Dublin with my wife on Easter Monday; we are going to sea Frankie Boyle on the Sunday night but we will not be taking the blackleg bus back to Heuston Station. All of the 1916 leaders would have supported the LUAS workers, so should everyone who doesn’t want to be ruled by the church of the latter day William Martin Murphys.

Kevin Higgins, Poet

Corporate ethics shouldn’t be about ‘us and them’. Companies cannot exist without their employees. Operations, profits – both are dependent on workers. If company is doing well, it has a moral and ethical duty to share that prosperity with its employees and customers. This approach can only benefit a company in the long term. I support the striking Luas workers, in this, our centenary year, the year we mark our own historic revolution

Jo Spain,  writer

We can’t have rent control yet workers are expected not to ask for wage rises? Full support to tram drivers looking for a decent wage.

Henry Silke, Media Activist

The 1916 Rising put the trams out of operation for longer than three days. Freedom means nothing without the right to secure a decent standard of life. Support the LUAS workers, all of them.

Sheamus Sweeney, Lecturer

I support the Luas workers because they are fighting for a decent standard of living. In an era of precarious work, low wages and unemployment I think it’s great to see workers determined to buck that trend and earn a salary that can pay their bills and give them a life worth living. Despite what the media tell us, that is not a crime – Ireland would be a better place if more of us did it.

Ronan Burtenshaw, Editor, 1916 issue of Jacobin Magazine

Any act of strike-breaking is an assault on the hard-won rights of all workers. National festivals ought to celebrate the achievements of workers in taking bold action to win the rights and conditions that create a decent society for all. This year, however, St Patrick’s Day is being used as a pretext for attacking collective bargaining rights and basic decency. We must side with the Luas workers in this, not the snakes.

Richard McAleavey, Blogger

I applaud the Luas workers taking a stand for fair pay and proper industrial standards. Their stance is an inspiring reminder that the right to a decent wage and the provision of a public good are in no way opposed: in a civilised state, each would ensure the other. The elevation of corporate interests, profit for the few, above the rights and reasonable demands of workers is cynical and divisive. To the Luas strikers: thank you for your resistance and for the fine example you’ve set for us all. Keep up the good fight!

Ciaran O Rourke, Poet

I support them because I wouldn’t put up with half the things that go on on the luas that alone deserves good payment

Tracy Smith Comerford, Blogger

Just remember whether you achieve all you demand now, or only some, it’s further steps on the road walked together, and as long as we all walk this road together, we can win.

Hugh Kunsang, Activist

Solidarity with luas workers from rail workers. Removing our labour is a powerful act in class struggle. Realising the strength in our labour power and in our solidarity is how we win the battle. Realising through strike that we can run the place ourselves is how we win the war.

Jennifer O Leary, Union Activist

I support the striking Luas Workers as it is inspiring to see workers proactively looking for the money they should be getting from a greedy multinational after the years of sacrifice they have made under the guise of austerity. This strike is a pivotal battle not just for the Luas workers but for all workers as a win could inspire more workers to fight for the wages they deserve that currently line the pockets of the super wealthy. The bosses don’t want to lose this one, the media attacks and the scabs being brought in show they are willing to push hard. I will see you all at the picket lines Thursday Morning.

Niamh Mc Donald, Housing Activist

In Ireland, we like to wax lyrical about the importance of wellbeing and good mental health. But it’s a waste of time unless we can recognise that certain jobs, routinely leave paid workers vulnerable. Luas workers, perhaps moreso than any other transport workers, are at especial risk of verbal abuse and anti-social behaviour. Most of all, I support their demand for a free GP service and increased sick-pay benefits.

Annemarie Ni Churreain, writer and Bogmans Cannon Diversity Editor

I believe in fair working conditions for all, and in the right to a basic living wage. I also believe the right to strike is an essential one in any democracy. Arnold Thomas Fanning, writer.

Arnold Fanning, Writer

I support the Luas Workers’ right to strike. Scab labour is a tactic used to break the impact of a strike. The neo-liberal agenda is to attack and demoralise workers through zero hour contracts and forcing people onto slave labour schemes so that the elite can continue to wallow in excessive profits – fuck that! So whether you agree with their demands or not we need to fight for every workers right to strike.

Jessica Keye, writer

Every worker has the right to withdraw their labour  workers have a right to organise. To negotiate on their own behalf with respect to pay and conditions.

Nessa Jennings, Activist

Red line
Green line
It’s all about the bottom line
Never ever stay in line
I’ll never cross the picket line!

Linda Hughes

For public transport users; two days without the ‘Luas’ service,
While fighting for a ‘living wage’ gives these striker’s purpose.

Helen Harrison, Poet

I’m behind the Luas workers in their just fight for improved pay and
working conditions, and I oppose the attempts by the employer to
defeat the industrial action by strikebreaking rather than engage in
talks with the drivers.

Trevor Joyce, Poet

Striking allows workers a more even playing field to negotiate. When a disagreement arises it is never an easy decision but often a necessary one. Collectively withholding our labour is sometimes the only resort left to affect changes in poor working conditions. If it wasn’t for workers’ strikes and their supporters throughout history none of us would have the rights we do today. Solidarity with the Luas Workers!

Gary Baus, Musician and activist