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Monday 25 September 2017

Aer Lingus resumes talks over cabin crew strike threat

Martin Frawley

AER Lingus is once again facing the threat of strike action, as crunch talks continue in a row over outsourcing cabin crew.

Talks will resume at noon today at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) in a bid to resolve the dispute, which threatens flights in the busy period up to Christmas and the new year.

At the request of the LRC, both the Impact union and Aer Lingus declined to comment ahead of the resumption of talks today.

However, yesterday, Impact official Michael Landers said the union was still prepared to take strike action if the dispute was not resolved.

Last week, the 1,000 cabin crew in the company voted 91pc in favour of industrial action, though it has yet to serve notice on the company.

Unions are legally required to give at least seven days' notice of industrial action. The union says the dispute was over outsourcing of cabin crew jobs on new transatlantic routes from Shannon, and the closure of the cabin crew base there, which threatens 86 jobs.

The airline says that the dispute concerns the union's refusal to agree to reduce crewing from five to four on the smaller 757 leased aircraft to be used on the new routes. With time running out, the company decided to outsource the cabin crew to operate the new routes.

Consequently, with little or no work for the 86 cabin crew in Shannon, the company decided to close the base. Staff have been offered redeployment to Cork and Dublin as well as the option of voluntary redundancy.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said this week that his preference would be for the Shannon base to remain open and for the airline to use its own staff on the new routes.

He said he would communicate this view to government members on the Aer Lingus board. A strike threat could be almost as damaging to the airline as a strike itself – as some travellers will switch travel plans to competitors, or even cancel bookings.

However, it is understood that to date the airline has not experienced any drop in bookings.

Irish Independent

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