Aer Lingus pilots’ pay row bound for WRC

Union agrees to move on the understanding that airline will improve offer

Aer Lingus pilots will take their case for a pay increase to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) following a proposal from the company this week.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) in Aer Lingus voted overwhelmingly against an 8.5 per cent increase tabled by an internal company tribunal two weeks ago.

Capt Mark Tighe, the union’s president, wrote on Friday to Adrian Dunne, Aer Lingus chief operations officer, agreeing to a proposal that the sides go to the WRC, the State industrial relations body that adjudicates on disputes.

Capt Tighe’s letter adds that, based on Aer Lingus’s decision to refer the issue to the commission, the union assumes the company is willing to make “a meaningful offer above what has already been rejected”.


He points out that this should include full restoration of pre-pandemic terms and conditions, and take account of inflation and pilot pay increases throughout the industry.

The Ialpa president notes that the union engaged with the company over 13 months, but adds that it is willing to attend a WRC hearing in good faith, on the understanding that Aer Lingus has a “significantly improved proposal”.

Mr Dunne this week wrote to Ialpa, part of trade union Fórsa, saying it believed that the commission was the appropriate place to continue talks.

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“Therefore, we write to advise that Aer Lingus will immediately request the intervention of the WRC to assist the parties we would expect your full co-operation in any future process,” his letter adds.

Almost all Ialpa members who voted rejected the offer tabled by the tribunal, chaired by senior counsel Gerard Durcan, in a ballot this month.

The deal included an 8.5 per cent pay increase over three years, and a once-off payment of 1.5 per cent, subject to pilots accepting changes to pay and conditions.

Capt Tighe pointed out that pilots had accepted reduced pay and conditions to aid Aer Lingus in recovering from the impact of Covid-19 travel curbs, but the airline had not reversed these measures as the business recovered.

Separately, it emerged on Friday that Ryanair has asked pilots to voluntarily take one extra day’s leave in the first quarter of the year as it prepares for a busier summer holiday period.

The Irish airline said it was normal in its industry that more annual leave was available in winter than in summer, when most of its customers took their summer holidays.

“The distribution and allocation of annual leave this winter is fully in compliance with our union-negotiated collective labour agreements and stringent flight time limitations which restrict pilots to flying a maximum of 900 hours in a year, an average of less than 18 hours a week,” it added.

Ryanair said reports that it was allocating “forced leave” to pilots were false.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas