Union-management talks at airport authority fail to break impasse

Air travel may be grounded over pensions dispute

Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 01:00


Talks between unions and management at Dublin Airport Authority yesterday failed to break the impasse that could ground air travel in the coming weeks.

The lack of any progress left sources pessimistic about similar negotiations due to take place at Aer Lingus later today.

Siptu members at the airline and in Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports recently voted for industrial action in an ongoing dispute over a €780 million hole in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme – the final salary retirement plan operated by the airport authority and Aer Lingus.

Representatives of the authority, responsible for Dublin and Cork airports, met Siptu and Irish Congress of Trade Union officials yesterday in an effort to head off a strike and to discuss new proposals tabled by the pension fund’s trustees.


No agreement
However, the talks ended without any agreement. The authority said afterwards it could not undermine its financial stability and growth potential to support unreasonable and unsustainable union demands on the pension issue.

Sources predicted late yesterday that similar negotiations scheduled for today between the unions and Aer Lingus, which have already been overshadowed by a dispute over the size of the Siptu delegation, are unlikely to make any breakthrough either.

A failure to break the deadlock could lead to strike at the airports and Aer Lingus, effectively grounding all air travel in and out of the Republic.


Stoppages
It was widely expected that Siptu would serve strike notice this week, raising the possibility of work stoppages in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day.

However, reports yesterday suggested strike notice could be served early next week.

In line with a Labour Court recommendation last year, the authority is willing to put €50 million up front in a new defined contribution pension for its workers that would replace superannuation scheme.

Siptu argues this sum is no longer adequate on a number of grounds. One sticking point is rooted in an unusual rule in the superannuation scheme.