Fresh attempts to avert Aer Lingus strike
Plans for industrial action at Aer Lingus from next Monday remained in place last night.
However, efforts were under way in the background to avert the threatened two-hour work stoppage that could cause disruption for thousands of passengers.
The planned stoppage had appeared likely to be suspended following the intervention of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) and employers’ body Ibec last Friday. Both organisations had proposed a new talks process in an effort to resolve a dispute over how to deal with a €748 million deficit in the pension scheme that covers workers at the airline and the Dublin Airport Authority.
However, Siptu said that following a meeting yesterday, its shop stewards at Aer Lingus had declined to withdraw strike notice pending clarification on a number of issues.
Sources said last night Ictu and Ibec may issue responses to Siptu today in a bid to head off the industrial action. Siptu is opposed to moves by Aer Lingus to seek new productivity measures to offset the cost of any investment in the pension scheme. The union has told members that the “Aer Lingus proposals are linked to financial productivity that will save the airline between €45 million and €54 million”.
Siptu sector organiser Dermot O’Loughlin said: “Our members are seeking the removal of preconditions introduced by Aer Lingus and which we believe to be unrelated to the pension crisis. In addition, we need clarification on the roles and responsibilities of all the participants mentioned in the Ictu/Ibec proposals.”
Minster for Transport Leo Varadkar said he was “disappointed” Siptu shop stewards at Aer Lingus had not withdrawn their notice of industrial action, “even though their union welcomed the joint initiative put forward by congress and Ibec last Friday”.
“This joint initiative aims to resolve the long-standing pension issue at Aer Lingus in a practical manner, in everyone’s interest. Passengers, tourists and business people will not appreciate the unnecessary disruption that will be caused.”
Aer Lingus said it found “most regrettable” the decision by Siptu to use customers “as leverage in a dispute, for which a way forward is clearly available”. It said the requirement for cost stabilisation measures had been consistently stated by the airline in all of its statements on the pension issue.