Varadkar critical of proposed work stoppage at Aer Lingus
MINISTER FOR Transport Leo Varadkar has criticised planned industrial action at Aer Lingus next month which he said would inconvenience thousands of passengers and damage the financial position of the airline and the country’s airports.
Trade unions yesterday said they would hold a two-hour work stoppage on Monday, November 19th, as part of a dispute over how to deal with a €748 million deficit in the pension scheme for workers. The move is expected to affect particularly transatlantic services.
Unions said no decision had been made on further action. However, the Unite union said it saw the stoppage as “laying down a marker . . . for fair treatment on pensions”.
Unions said there would be no disruption on November 19th if Aer Lingus agreed to re-enter talks and attend hearings at the Labour Court.
But some union sources said if the company did not agree to go to the Labour Court on the pensions issue further stoppages were likely.
Talks on dealing with the deficit were adjourned indefinitely at the Labour Relations Commission last Thursday. Aer Lingus has refused to go to the Labour Court. Sources said the carrier did not want a recommendation “imposed” on its shareholders.
The company said it remained available to resume talks with unions at the LRC. It said it had not walked away from the commission talks and urged unions to re-enter the process.
Aer Lingus said it would consider the notices of industrial action with its legal advisers.
“Strike action is regrettable. It will inconvenience thousands . . . both sides should start talking again,” said Mr Varadkar.
The Dublin Airport Authority said there was no rationale for industrial action. “It will be damaging to the economy . . . [and] have a negative impact on the finances of both Aer Lingus and the DAA.”
Fianna Fáil said Mr Varadkar should intervene immediately to prevent the planned industrial action.
Ryanair, which is a major shareholder in Aer Lingus, called on Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary David Begg – who is a director of the former national airline – to condemn the planned industrial action or resign from the board.