Aer Lingus pilots vote for industrial action

Move represents a contingency measure as talks over increments and pension continue

Aer Lingus pilots have voted for industrial action in the case of a breakdown of talks with the airline.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Aer Lingus pilots have voted for industrial action in the case of a breakdown of talks with the airline. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Aer Lingus pilots have voted for industrial action as a last resort in the case of a breakdown of talks with the airline.

The move represented a contingency measure and the ballot given to pilots last month did not contain any mention of a specific date for strike action.

In a statement, Aer Lingus said it “has not received notice of industrial action” and does “not anticipate disruption” to its schedule.

Sources have said that there was no suggestion of notice being served while the process was ongoing, no strike date had been set and no threat had been made against the company. It was an “action of last resort”, the source said.

Talks are ongoing between pilot unions and airline management over increments and the pension.

Last month, Aer Lingus told pilots it would not pay incremental increases that were due in April.

It is understood management at the company told pilots that it would not make any adjustment to pay rates pending completion of talks both on dealing with significant financial difficulties in their pension scheme and in relation to a general review of remuneration which is currently under way under the chairmanship of senior counsel Gerry Durcan.

The overall cost-containment plan at Aer Lingus - known as “Greenfield” - ended late last year and it is understood pilots’ representatives argued the payment of increments should have taken place at the beginning of April.

It is understood Aer Lingus management maintained it had made it clear from the start of the talks on the pension scheme deficit and the commencement of the pay review it was seeking “cost stabilisation” from pilots.

The company has signalled pay moderation, rather than pay cuts, would be needed to facilitate investment of shareholder funds to deal with the deficit in the pilot pension scheme.