Deal 'within days' in Aer Lingus rosters row
A deal to end the costly row involving Aer Lingus cabin crew could be struck within days, it was claimed today.
Airline management and trade union chiefs at Impact agreed to let industrial relations trouble-shooters try to broker a resolution in the damaging dispute over new rosters.
And senior figures on both sides believe a resolution may be possible by early next week.
Hopes of a breakthrough came after employers' body Ibec and umbrella trade union group Congress intervened with the airline and Impact to chart a way forward.
Aer Lingus said it remained committed to new rosters but would take part in talks with the Labour Relations Commission to try to find a "speedy resolution".
Talks between the parties are expected to begin immediately involving LRC chief Kieran Mulvey, with the two sides hopeful of a resolution by early next week.
Impact said they have always sought a mediator to end the row.
"Our position is that throughout this we've been looking for a third party intervention - it's probably the only way of breaking the logjam," a spokesman said.
"So we're happy that that's happened, so it's a question of going in and seeing what comes out the other end."
Congress and Ibec pledged to start the process immediately.
In a joint statement they said: "Ibec and Ictu will engage with the Labour Relations Commission and the Arbitrator on our deliberations with a view to getting the process under way as soon as possible.
"The parties have assured us of their fullest co-operation and engagement with a view to a speedy resolution."
Despite the potential breakthrough, Aer Lingus grounded another 12 flights to European and UK destinations, with around 10 expected to be cancelled tomorrow.
The airline said affected customers were being alerted up to five days before their departure date.
Impact said 220 workers have so far been removed from the payroll for failing to abide by the new rosters.
Aer Lingus has put the number at 215 and said disciplinary letters are being sent out on a phased basis to those who do not comply with the new working arrangements.
The union maintains the rosters are controversial because working times can be changed by three hours on the day of duty, making it impossible to plan childcare; the introduction of 'double' shifts and the removal of meal breaks from European flights.
Joe Costello, Labour Party transport spokesman, said moves must be found to resolve the dispute.
"It is to be hoped that Ictu and Ibec can now plot a way forward which will lead to a resolution of the dispute, get the cabin crew back to work and have Aer Lingus fully operational again," Mr Costello said.
"Ireland is in the deepest recession in the history of the State. The country desperately needs all sectors of the economy to be functioning to the maximum capacity."