Aer Lingus threatens court action over proposed strike

Unions consider co-ordinated industrial action over aviation pension arrangements

Unions have said  they remain open to discussions with management on a possible resolution to the dispute.  Photograph: :Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Unions have said they remain open to discussions with management on a possible resolution to the dispute. Photograph: :Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 20:08

Aer Lingus is threatening to go to court to prevent Siptu members at the airline striking in the run up to St Patrick’s Day.

Staff at the airline voted for industrial action last week in an ongoing row over a €780 million hole in their pension pot, and could strike in the days coming up to the national holiday.

Aer Lingus executive, Sean Murphy, wrote today to Siptu organiser, Dermot O’Loughlin, questioning the union’s right to ballot members in the first place, and warning that the company could take all steps, “including legal action” necessary to prevent industrial action.

Unions at Aer Lingus and Dublin and Shannon airports are to consult with members about co-ordinating industrial action as part of the long-running row over pension arrangements.

Following a meeting today the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said that the consultation process was expected to take around a fortnight.

The trade union Siptu has already secured the backing of members in the airports and Aer Lingus in a recent ballot for industrial action.

Other unions are likely to follow this with their own ballots in the coming days.

Siptu may serve notice of industrial action from the middle of next week to run for around a fortnight.

This could see industrial action commence around St Patrick’s Day.

The unions also said following the meeting that they remained open to discussions with management on a possible resolution to the dispute.

The pension fund covering staff at Aer Lingus and the Dublin and Shannon airports has a deficit of over €700 million.

Last week the trustees of the scheme produced new proposals to deal with the deficit which would involve significant cuts in benefits for both serving and deferred members - those who have left the companies but not yet retired - as well as pensioners.

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