Union says Aer Lingus staff facing lay-offs from June

Fórsa describes airline’s plans as ‘premature’

Aer Lingus met the group of unions representing staff on Friday. Photograph: Alan Betson

Aer Lingus met the group of unions representing staff on Friday. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Staff at Aer Lingus are facing lay-offs as well as cuts to pay and hours from the latter part of June, the trade union Fórsa has said.

The union said on Friday the airline’s plans were “premature”. It said “there remains a full month to explore and negotiate available options while unprecedented support from the State remains in place”.

Following a meeting between the airline and the group of unions representing staff the company on Friday Fórsa said it had been told the existing arrangements – which see staff receiving half their traditional pay supported by the Government’s wage subsidy scheme – would continue until June 21st. However, unions said the airline “intended to take unilateral measures beyond that date, including lay-offs and further reductions to hours and pay”.

Fórsa official Angela Kirk said:”The effect of Covid-19 is not just an issue for Aer Lingus and its staff. It’s the most significant crisis for the entire Irish aviation industry in a generation, with the potential to adversely affect the commercial connectivity of the country.

“To act unilaterally now, and to abandon the efforts to negotiate a solution to the current crisis, and plan for a future recovery, is to squander the time remaining to negotiate real solutions.

“Nobody is pretending it will be easy, but to shut the door on discussions with a month of state-subsidised support still to go, is not the way to solve the enormous challenges faced by the industry.

‘Very serious development’

“While this is a very serious development the unions are resolved to continue to protect the position of our members, maintain employment in the airline and protect to the greatest possible extent the earnings and living standards of members. We will be engaging with our elected cabin crew and other grade representatives in the coming days,” she said.

The group of unions, which includes Connect, Siptu and Unite, told the airline it must continue to honour all existing collective agreements, and that any proposed measures must conform to the terms of those agreements.

The airline has already said that it expects its business next year to be about 20 per cent smaller than in 2019, so would seek to reduce employee numbers in line with this. That led to speculation that Aer Lingus wants about 900 redundancies.