LRC intervenes in Aer Lingus dispute
Impact votes for strike action over airline’s plans to shut cabin crew base at Shannon
The dispute centres on rostering arrrangements and separate plans by Aer Lingus to close its cabin crew base at Shannon airport. File Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times
The Commission’s director of conciliation Services Kevin Foley has asked both parties to meet him on Friday in the commission’s offices in an attempt to find agreement in the dispute.
The talks will address the dispute over plans by Aer Lingus to close its cabin crew base at Shannon airport. 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 yesterday.
The union is also in dispute with the airline over rostering arrrangements.
While Impact has not served notice of strike action on the airline, a spokesman said last night 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 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.
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 yesterday. 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.
Impact said yesterday 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.
Fianna Fail said last night 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 today between management at the companies was cancelled yesterday.