Sunday 28 May 2017

Airline may still axe 1,100 jobs despite majority vote for deal

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

FEARS are growing that Aer Lingus will axe 1,100 jobs even though most of its staff have accepted an alternative €97m survival plan.

Almost 1,200 SIPTU ground handling, support staff and cabin crew yesterday voted by 58pc in favour of a proposal that would mean over 600 voluntary redundancies and pay cuts up to 10pc.

Hundreds of pilots and middle management staff represented by IMPACT have also accepted the proposal that was recommended by their union.

But the refusal of over 1,000 cabin crew members of IMPACT to accept the plan could mean compulsory redundancies will be imposed.

The result of a final ballot by 200 craft workers will not be known until today.

Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller faces a dilemma in deciding whether he will act on his threat to impose redundancies or spend more time in talks to persuade the IMPACT cabin crew to accept the plan.

He has threatened to sack 1,100 workers unless the proposal -- which includes five agreements for separate divisions of staff-- is accepted by each group.

Pressure is mounting on the airline boss to act on his ultimatum as the loss-making airline's costs stack up in the absence of agreement.

SIPTU last night admitted it is worried he will carry out his threat to sack staff.

Aer Lingus said it would not comment until all the ballot results had been released.

"I wouldn't take Mr Mueller's threat lightly," said SIPTU branch organiser Teresa Hannick.

Harsh

"I would certainly hope he wouldn't do this and hope a way can we found around it.

"We've been led to believe the 1,100 redundancies are what the CEO and board are planning. We don't know if it's real or not.

"The new CEO is only in since September and told us what he was going to do, and so far he has been consistent in what he's saying," said Ms Hannick.

"The result was tight enough because these are harsh proposals. As well as redundancies, pay is being cut and there is a proposal for unpaid leave for most staff of 10 days this year.

"Staff took a hard decision in accepting this. They saw what the alternative was and what could possibly happen. We have to wait and see what the company's response is going to be."

Under the proposed cost-cutting plan, there are no pay cuts for cabin crew on earnings below €45,000.

However, sources said many of the crew were not willing to take further pain less than a year after a an earlier cost-cutting scheme.

Their earnings were cut significantly when a credit system that compensates them for situations including delays in flights was frozen, as well as commissions for on-board sales.

In addition, unions said they could not avail of a 'leave and return' scheme that meant other staff could take a tax-free redundancy lump sum and return on lesser pay and conditions.

The embattled airline is expected to make a statement on the result of the union ballots today ahead of the release of its annual report tomorrow morning.

Irish Independent

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