Aer Lingus to re-book flyers hit by St Patrick's Day strike
Published 04/03/2014 | 02:30
AER Lingus will today begin re-booking passengers who look certain to be disrupted by industrial action on the Friday of St Patrick's weekend.
The action that threatens to shut down the country's three main airports and Aer Lingus on Friday, March 14, is unlikely to be deferred, despite a new government-brokered plan that will attempt to resolve an ongoing pensions row.
While a decision won't be made until this morning about whether to call off the action, Siptu organiser Dermot O'Loughlin said that at this stage it appeared the unrest would proceed as planned.
A highly charged meeting of Siptu's aviation division was addressed yesterday by the trade union president, Jack O'Connor.
He effectively said the decision whether or not to call off the action was in the hands of the Siptu pensions committee dealing with the issue.
The Government, meanwhile, weighed into the dispute, following consultation with employers' group IBEC and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
It was agreed to set up an expert panel in an attempt to break the deadlock between Siptu, Aer Lingus, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and Shannon Airport.
The panel will undertake a "detailed investigation" of the defined benefit Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme, which has a near €800m deficit.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday reiterated his call on SIPTU to abandon its plans to strike and confirmed that an expert panel would now investigate how to resolve the pensions row.
"What's happened is that the Government has come together with the employers' body IBEC and the trade union umbrella group ICTU to put together a panel of experts, agreed by all sides, who can study the issues relating to the pension fund at the airport, and come up with a solution," Mr Varadkar said.
"And on foot of that, we're asking SIPTU to call off the strike," he added.