Cabin crew at Aer Lingus back industrial action
Row centres on rostering arrangements and plans to close base at Shannon airport
Cabin crew at Aer Lingus voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.
Representatives of cabin crew at Aer Lingus and officials of their trade union, Impact, will meet over the coming days to decide on a strategy following an overwhelming vote by staff for industrial action.
Impact has not served notice of strike action on the airline however a spokesman said tonight that industrial action would be inevitable unless there was either a face-to-face engagement between the parties or through a third party.
A spokesman for the union said that cabin crew representatives and Impact officials would meet over the coming days and that essentially industrial action would be a live option from that point onwards.
He said it was not a question of what would precipitate industrial action but rather what would prevent it.
Cabin crew at the airline voted by a margin of 91 per cent to 9 per cent in favour of industrial action in a ballot which was counted earlier today.
The dispute centres on rostering arrrangements and separate plans by Aer Lingus to close its cabin crew base at Shannon airport.
In a statement the cabin crew branch of Impact said the ballot for industrial action had “been provoked by Aer Lingus management’s attitude and behaviour on a wide range of issues, including the breach of existing agreements with staff, which have made the working lives of Aer Lingus cabin crew increasingly difficult in recent years”.
The branch maintained that Aer Lingus management was unwilling to address or resolve cabin crew concerns on these issues through normal industrial relations channels.
It said that its decision to ballot members on industrial action was made immediately prior to a recent decision by Aer Lingus management to close the Shannon base and outsource cabin crew arrangements on transatlantic flights from the airport.
Aer Lingus did not comment on the ballot for industrial action.
However, the airline has previously stated it had originally planned to expand the Shannon base to facilitate an increase in its trans-Atlantic services. Initially, the airline had wanted to use its own cabin crew to work on leased aircraft which would be operating the new services.
However, it said it had not been able to reach agreement with Impact on cabin crew staffing levels to apply on the aircraft.
Impact said yesterday that cabin crew at all Aer Lingus bases were resolved to fight the closure of the Shannon facility and protect the 87 jobs there.
“This is the latest in a succession of ultimatums and unnecessary coercive actions by Aer Lingus management which are designed to bully its staff into submission.”
The Labour Relations Commission has held informal contacts with the parties on the Shannon issue over recent days, however, there has been no formal intervention in the dispute as of yet.
Fianna Fáil said tonight that the overwhelming vote by cabin crew for industrial action represented a very serious development which “must surely be a wake-up call to management at Aer Lingus”.
Meanwhile, a separate dispute over the pension scheme for staff at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) continues to run in the background.
A meeting scheduled for tomorrow between management at the companies was cancelled today.
Siptu confirmed that it would be seeking the companies to invest further funds in a bid to plug a deficit of around €780 million in the pension scheme.
However Aer Lingus has already signalled in recent weeks to the markets and to the trustees of the pension scheme that it will not put up any additional money on top of the €140 million it has agreed to invest.
The threat of industrial action at Aer Lingus could cause difficulties for the airline’s advance bookings in the run-up to the Christmas even if the dispute did not ultimately result in work stoppages.