Aer Lingus cabin crew vote for cuts after threat of sackings
Published 27/03/2010 | 05:00
AER Lingus cabin crew have overwhelmingly backed a €97m cost-cutting plan after chief executive Christoph Mueller threatened to sack them.
A total of 92pc of the staff dramatically reversed their earlier vote against the rescue programme after the airline announced it would take drastic measures against them.
Three weeks ago, cabin crew rejected the cost cuts, known as the Greenfield Plan, by a majority of almost two-thirds.
The way is now clear for the airline to implement its plan to achieve over 650 voluntary redundancies within two years, pay cuts up to 10pc, which will be applied to the next payroll, and a three-year pay freeze.
Aer Lingus threatened to axe 230 of the over 1,000 IMPACT cabin crew on a compulsory basis, with just basic legal redundancy payments after they rejected the plan.
It said it would first terminate all of the crew's employment before rehiring them on inferior terms and conditions.
But IMPACT asked the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) to intervene and following talks with mediators, it agreed to put the proposals to its members once again.
It said members agreed to a re-ballot after getting more clarification on details of the plan.
Last night, Aer Lingus said it appreciated the overwhelming result of the second ballot.
It said the re-ballot result was a major step towards full delivery of the savings it wants from cabin crew under its cost-reduction programme, known as Project Greenfield.
"The company will now work with IMPACT to implement the productivity targets in the Greenfield agreement," it said.
Aer Lingus will discuss its plans to increase annual working hours from 600 to 850 with cabin crew next week.
IMPACT said approximately 828 of its members voted in the ballot. "It is significant that this result was achieved through a joint negotiating process," the union said.
"Furthermore, the agreement was achieved without any recourse to, or threat of, industrial action at any stage of the negotiations."
The cabin crew branch committee said it was pleased with the outcome of the ballot but the past few months had been difficult as staff faced the cost cuts barely a year after similar proposals valued at €15m.
It said it hoped the re-ballot would mark the start of a new relationship with management based on the principle of mutual respect.
Most of the troubled airline's staff, including pilots and ground handling staff, have already backed the plan.
Dublin North Fianna Fail deputy Michael Kennedy, a member of the Joint Oireachtas Transport Committee, said the result was "very good news" for Aer Lingus.