Business Irish

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Chaos at Aer Lingus deepens as 10 flights cancelled

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

More than 900 Aer Lingus passengers face a third day of flight chaos as 10 flights were cancelled today in a deepening dispute over new rosters.

Travel plans for more than 500 passengers were affected yesterday when three transatlantic flights were cancelled and another flight was delayed because of a bitter row between the airline and its cabin crew.

Yesterday's disruption followed the cancellation of flights between Boston and Dublin on Monday -- affecting 300 passengers -- when management sent cabin crew home after they refused to work new rosters.

Passengers were rebooked on other flights yesterday when flights EI125 Dublin to Chicago, EI124 Chicago to Dublin and EI104 New York to Dublin were cancelled.

A Dublin to New York flight was also disrupted by the industrial action but eventually took off after a three-hour delay when the airline hired in a replacement aircraft and crew.

Flights between Dublin and Madrid were also able to go ahead due to leased planes.

The airline said the effect on its flight schedule would have have been far worse if it had not brought in hire operators to run the US routes.

It advised passengers on impending flights to turn up at the airport as normal and said it will send them a text message if there are any changes to flights.

There is no end in sight to the dispute over new rosters that cabin crew claim management wants to force them to work.

Aer Lingus denies the rosters are being imposed without agreement and says it is entitled to introduce them as part of a cost-cutting deal with the cabin crew last year, in which they agreed to work 850 hours a year.

But the cabin crew's union IMPACT says changes to the rosters -- which were introduced last year -- have not been agreed in talks with management.

Its members had been involved in work-to-rule action for 14 weeks that had no effect on flights until this week, when management announced further roster changes from Monday.

The airline has sent 86 members of its cabin crew home and struck 32 of them off the payroll since they refused to co-operate with the new rules.

Blame

It laid the blame solely on the union for continuing industrial action "despite 15 months of negotiation, agreement, clarification, conciliation and binding arbitration".

The company's director of human resources and organisational change, Michael Grealy, described the work-to-rule as "a cynical attempt to backtrack" on the commitment to 850 hours work a year.

The airline said the new rosters had been developed in line with international best practice to achieve 850 flying hours agreed as part of the €97m cost-cutting agreement, known as Greenfield.

IMPACT said Aer Lingus was imposing changes on staff that breached the Greenfield agreement.

It said cabin crew on European flights were now being asked to work shifts of up to 11 hours with no meal breaks.

There was formerly an entitlement to a half-hour break after six hours of duty, it said.

It said another change imposed mean shifts were being doubled so staff had to work on flights to and from a destination twice in a single day.

Irish Independent

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