Aer Lingus unions to meet today to consider industrial action
AER LINGUS unions are to meet today to consider industrial action following the breakdown of talks last week in the row over the €748 million gap in the airline’s pension scheme.
Impact, Siptu, Mandate and the TEEU engineering union will convene at lunchtime to co-ordinate action that could include a series of day-long stoppages from as early as November.
Aer Lingus has said it has not been put on notice of industrial action and does not expect disruption at this stage but will advise customers if this changes.
The unions would be required to give 14 days’ notice, presenting the possibility of industrial action from the second half of the month.
Talks at the Labour Relations Commission broke down last Thursday and Aer Lingus has refused to go to the Labour Court, preferring to have any pension settlement proposals agreed by shareholders.
Impact national secretary Matt Staunton said yesterday the company’s refusal to attend Labour Court talks suggested it was prepared to see the pension scheme collapse.
The union is concerned trustees could wind up the scheme because management will not make cash contributions as part of changes to the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme.
The scheme covers all Dublin Airport Authority staff and all Aer Lingus workers except pilots. Airport authority staff are not involved in the current dispute. The authority is pursuing separate proposals to Aer Lingus’s with its unions.
Union members believe the airport authority’s terms are more generous than those of Aer Lingus.
“The collapse of this scheme without an adequate alternative in place would create the financial retirement disaster that every family dreads,” Mr Staunton said yesterday.
“Aer Lingus management has sought to portray them as unreasonable. It is not unreasonable to want to protect your retirement income after decades of paying into a contributory pension scheme.”
Negotiations about funding the scheme have continued for two years but, following the company’s refusal to go to the Labour Court, Mr Staunton said it was untenable for a major Irish company to “refuse to use the State’s industrial relations machinery to try to find an agreed solution to what everyone agrees is a very difficult situation”, particularly when one of the largest shareholders is the State itself.