Worker fury at Aer Lingus plan to rehire staff on worse terms
Published 11/03/2010 | 05:00
Aer Lingus's plan to lay off about 1,200 full and part-time cabin crew and rehire them on new contracts that will include reduced pay and more working hours has sparked a furious response from union IMPACT.
The airline said yesterday that 230 cabin crew who will be subjected to compulsory layoffs after rejecting a €97m annual cost-saving programme will now only receive statutory redundancy terms.
That amounts to two weeks' pay for every year of service, plus one extra week's pay. It is subject to a maximum earnings limit of €600 per week.
Another 440 or so staff, who belong to unions that accepted the cost-cutting programme, are in line to receive pay-offs amounting to six weeks' pay for every year of service under a voluntary leaving scheme.
IMPACT yesterday lashed out at the airline and claimed Aer Lingus had engaged in "retribution", describing the measures as "brutal, targeted and unfair".
Staff belonging to unions including SIPTU, Unite and the Irish Airline Pilots' Association have all voted in favour of the cost-cutting measures.
IMPACT has now hinted at possible industrial action, saying that the airline's proposals are likely to bring cabin crew loyalty to the company "to an end".
It's unclear at this stage whether the cabin crew staff will be rehired by Aer Lingus, or by a new company established by the airline before Christmas, Aer Lingus (Ireland).
If hired by the latter, it's almost a certainty that staff won't be entitled to the type of pension benefits that they might currently be on.
Management and union representatives held two meetings yesterday, while IMPACT has also asked the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) to call the two sides to fresh talks in an effort to broker a deal.
However, sources have said that it's highly unlikely Aer Lingus will return to any negotiations under the LRC.
Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller informed the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment this week that the airline was giving 30 days' notice that it plans to make 230 cabin crew redundant.
Aer Lingus said that all remaining cabin crew will be on new contracts of employment following the restructuring.
The airline also said this week that it lost €81m last year, while it's expected to lose a further €36m this year.