Aer Lingus seeks five-year pay freeze from workers

Airline says it also wants to cut sick pay and introduce reduced rates for new staff

An Aer Lingus management document outlining the proposed changes to union officials calls for a pay freeze with ‘no cost-increasing claims’ for the next five years. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

An Aer Lingus management document outlining the proposed changes to union officials calls for a pay freeze with ‘no cost-increasing claims’ for the next five years. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

 

Aer Lingus wants to freeze workers’ pay for five years and is proposing sharp cuts in rates paid to new cabin and ground crew.

Unions and management began talks on further cuts at Aer Lingus last week as the airline continued grappling with tough Government travel curbs due to the pandemic.

The company has told trade unions Siptu and Fórsa that it wants to freeze pay until 2026, cut sick pay and introduce reduced rates for new cabin- and ground-crew staff.

Union sources say one of their main fears is that the company’s proposals appear to focus on staff on pre-2009 pay and conditions, who amount to around one third of the airline’s workforce.

They also argue that the proposals include changes sought by Aer Lingus “when times were good” but which unions refused.

A management document outlining the proposed changes to union officials calls for a pay freeze with “no cost-increasing claims” for the next five years.

New ground crew would be paid an entry rate of €12.30 an hour while they would get 13 weeks’ full sick pay and 13 weeks at 75 per cent of their normal rate.

New cabin crew would start on €23,262 a year, against the current €25,973, while extra points would be added to their pay scale.

For existing staff, the airline wants the same sick-pay terms it is offering to new ground crew instead of current conditions, which allow for 26 weeks on full pay and 26 on 75 per cent of normal rates.

The company is seeking to freeze all points on “legacy pay scales” above the last three points from the top rate.

That means that on a 15-point scale, all those on point 12 and above would remain on that pay, the company explains. Aer Lingus also wants to cut lieu-day entitlements for working bank holidays.

Begin hiring

Union officials say that moves to cut new employees’ pay show that the company believes it may have to begin hiring again next year if travel picks up.

Separately, they have urged the company to keep Cork Airport staff facing temporary lay off between September 12th and November 22nd on the payroll.

Aer Lingus intends laying off the employees while the airport completes work on its runway.

However, if they are laid off in September, they will not be entitled to State pandemic unemployment payments, as the scheme will have closed, so will receive the lower jobseeker’s allowance.

Fórsa, which represents 2,000 Aer Lingus cabin crew, said it was consulting with members on the proposed changes and would continue to prioritise protecting those jobs.

The union repeated senior official Ashley Connolly’s warning to politicians that airlines operating in the Republic had the flexibility to move aircrafts to more open countries.

“This puts thousands of jobs at risk,” said Fórsa. The union called on Government to provide clarity and certainty for aviation.

Siptu, which represents the airline’s ground crew, said it was at the early stages of challenging negotiations.

Aer Lingus noted that it lost €361 million last year and €103 million in the first three months of 2020.

“We are continuing to consult with unions representing employees on the change requirements relevant to them,” the airline said.