Aer Lingus plans full schedule as roster row nears resolution
Published 29/01/2011 | 05:00
AER Lingus may run a full flight schedule again next week after edging closer to a deal with cabin crew over contentious new rosters.
But it has already notified passengers that it has cancelled more than 20 flights this weekend.
A total of 12 flights will be cancelled today and another 10 tomorrow.
Hundreds of passengers were hit yesterday when 14 flights were grounded, following almost two weeks of chaos.
Sources last night said the highly disruptive dispute that has already caused over 80 flight cancellations and affected more than 5,000 passengers may be over within days.
The airline is close to an agreement with its cabin crew on new rosters that increase their flying hours from 830 hours to 850 hours a year -- or 16 hours a week.
Progress was made at last-ditch talks between management and the cabin crew's union IMPACT yesterday.
The airline described the talks as "constructive" and said it would continue "with a view to achieving a speedy resolution", but it would not back down on the 850 flying hours.
The row centres on new rosters that the airline introduced last Monday week.
When over 200 cabin crew refused to work them, the firm struck them off the payroll and threatened to sack them.
The airline had refused to attend further talks, despite an IMPACT appeal to the Labour Court to intervene, until Thursday when it agreed to discussions hosted by the main union and employer bodies, ICTU and IBEC.
Under threat of compulsory redundancy, the cabin crew voted to accept an increase in their time in the air to 850 hours a year last March.
They have already accepted changes to their rosters that bring their hours from under 700 hours to 830 hours, or 15 hours a week.
The standoff that began two weeks ago was over the introduction of the final 20 hours flying time per year -- to bring it up by roughly an hour to 16 hours a week.
Aer Lingus claims this would bring the average shift under the new rosters -- which include flight time and time spend on other duties -- to six hours a day.
IMPACT said cabin crew accepted the increase in hours, but objected to double shifts (doing two round trips in a day) and other new rules on meal breaks, rostered days off, and 'rest' time between flights.
Following yesterday's meeting, IBEC and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said it was clear that both parties realised an early resolution of the row was necessary.
They said they recommended that the parties meet at the Labour Relations Commission to continue talks, referring any issues that need clarification to arbitrator Kieran Mulvey.
They said they expected both sides to accept his findings as "final and binding".
Christoph Mueller braced for impact