Aer Lingus strike 'highly likely' as talks collapse

Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 01:00

Industrial action at Aer Lingus now seems highly likely in the short term as part of an ongoing dispute over pensions, trade union Siptu has said.

Siptu said efforts to resolve the dispute over the €748 million deficit in the pension scheme at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority ended in disarray at the Labour Relations Commission last night.

The union claimed the breakdown in the talks occurred when Aer Lingus representatives refused to meet unions representing the staff pension committees.

“Despite a request from the LRC, Aer Lingus refused to meet directly with the employee’s representatives. The company is also refusing to attend the Labour Court in relation to the issue.”

Siptu organiser Dermot O’Loughlin said this afternoon workers at the two companies were “angry and disillusioned with the discourteous behaviour which the Aer Lingus management team has displayed”.

He said the union’s industrial action committee would meet over the next couple of days to consider the issue. However, he said industrial action at Aer Lingus was “highly likely in the short term”.

Mr O’Loughlin said talks with the Dublin Airport Authority over the pension issue had been “positive”. He said the union was now entering into local talks with the airport authority on the issue.

“Local [union] representatives sought the opportunity to meet with the management side to tease out the specifics of the company’s proposal. The company refused to meet and only provided a three-quarter page note entitled ‘Proposal Summary’ which was bereft of detail.

“It is the view of the pension committee that Aer Lingus has chosen to deliberately abandon all meaningful and reasonable negotiations to resolve the pension crisis. Our members are angry and disillusioned at the discourteous behaviour of the Aer Lingus management team,” he said.

A spokesman for Aer Lingus said the company had attended meetings at the LRC yesterday where it was asked to clarify some aspects of proposals it had previously put forward.

“We provided these clarifications. The LRC requested that we engage with the trade unions’ actuarial advisors on Monday and Tuesday of next week. This is planned to take place. Thursday 18th October has been provisionally set as the next date for the engagement of the parties at the LRC. Claims that Aer Lingus has in some way refused to meet with trade union representatives or has in any way withdrawn from or disrespected the process are entirely incorrect.”

“Aer Lingus is fully committed to the process of finding a resolution to the funding issues in the IASS pension scheme and continues to engage in the process. Aer Lingus is at a loss to understand why Siptu has issued misleading statements of some apparent breakdown.”

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