Cabin crew union IMPACT have hit out at claims that Aer Lingus employees at Shannon refused to operate new transatlantic services proposed by the airline.
“We never refused to operate this service," said IMPACT assistant general secretary Michael Landers on RTE Radio 1.
"What we asked for was negotiations around the terms and conditions and negotiations around the crewing level. Aer Lingus presented us with an ultimatum and said 'accept this or we will outsource this work'.”
Earlier today, Aer Lingus told staff that it intends to close its cabin crew base at Shannon from the end of March next year.
The airline plans to outsource a total of 87 jobs following a dispute over crewing levels on new transatlantic routes using smaller planes.
The staff who are losing their jobs will offered the options of redeployment to Dublin or Cork, voluntary severance, or possibly redundancy.
They will also be offered leave of absence to work for the outsourcing company, ASL Aviation/Air Contractors Ltd.
Declan Carney, Director of Communications for Aer Lingus said that the decision was "extremely regrettable".
"What started out as a jobs growth initiative and as a general positive benefit for the entire Shannon region has ended up in a situation where, as a result of IMPACT’s refusal to co-operate with the operation of these new flights, we no require a large portion of the cabin crew group there,” he said.
The new arrangement would have seen the creation of an additional 40 jobs at Shannon.
Chief Executive Christoph Mueller told staff today that the company has now decided to outsource these jobs to the company that leases the planes. In a memo, he said that the airline has found that it is not a commercially viable option to retain a single short haul crew base in Shannon.
But IMPACT has described the decision to close the cabin crew base from the end of next March as an act of "wanton destruction" on the livelihoods of loyal workers.
Mr Landers said: “The first time we met the company and had any discussions on this was in July of this year. In August, they wrote to us and said they were not willing to negotiate any further.”
The union said its members will fight the decision and that cabin crew are balloting for industrial action with the ballot due to be completed on 30 October.