Unions plan Aer Lingus stoppage

Tue, Oct 30, 2012, 00:00

Staff at Aer Lingus are to hold a two-hour work stoppage on Monday, November 19th, as part of a dispute with the company over pensions.

Unions at the airline said the stoppage would run from 10am until noon that day.

The move could represent the beginning of an escalating campaign of industrial action as part of the row over pensions for workers at the company.

The planned industrial action has been criticised by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.

He said: “Strike action is regrettable. It will inconvenience thousands of tourists, travellers and business people and will damage the financial position both of Aer Lingus and the airports, which is of no benefit to anyone working in aviation in the long term. Strike action should never be inevitable, and both sides should start talking again.”

In a joint statement, the unions involved - Impact, Siptu, the Teeu, and Unite - said there would be no disruption on November 19th if Aer Lingus management agreed to re-enter the negotiations and attend hearings at the Labour Court.

Talks on the pensions issue were adjourned indefinitely at the Labour Relations Commission last Thursday. The airline has refused to go to the Labour Court.

The unions said any disruption to passengers or businesses on November 19th would be “solely due to the decision of Aer Lingus management to stop talking to staff representatives about their future retirement incomes”.

Unite said it saw the two-hour work stoppage “as laying down a marker for what may prove a long-term battle for fair treatment on pensions”.

Aer Lingus had said it remains available to resume talks with unions in the dispute.

The announcement by the unions follows the suspension of talks at the Labour Relations Commission last week on how to deal with a €748 million deficit in the pension scheme which covers both Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport Authority workers.

Aer Lingus has refused to attend the Labour Court on the issue. This had led some unions to argue that their only remaining alternative was industrial action.

In a statement earlier today, Aer Lingus said it believed an agreed solution achieved through negotiation was required and, as such, the Labour Relations Commission remained "the appropriate forum for the achievement of that solution".

"The company remains available to resume discussions with the union groups at the Labour Relations Commission in order to reach a solution."

Aer Lingus said it did not walk away from discussions at the Labour Relations Commission last week. It said the talks had been indefinitely adjourned by the Labour Relations Commission on Thursday evening.

"Aer Lingus continues to be focused on achieving a fair outcome that improves the pension prospects of affected IASS members in a way that will balance the interests of all parties, including shareholders."

It is understood Aer Lingus does not want to go to the Labour Court as it believes it would be inappropriate for a decision of the court to be imposed on its shareholders. It is understood its preference is for a solution which would emerge from talks at the Labour Relations Commission which could then be recommended to shareholders.

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