Aer Lingus to seek €3m in damages from SIPTU
Aer Lingus is likely to seek as much as €3m in damages from trade union SIPTU because of losses it claims it incurred as a result of a strike notice that was called off this week.
The airline launched a High Court action yesterday, serving papers on the trade union and SIPTU organiser Dermot O'Loughlin.
In a plenary summons sent by Aer Lingus solicitors at law firm McCann FitzGerald, the airline said it would be seeking damages for alleged "conspiracy" and "unlawful interference" with its business. SIPTU said that it would contest the legal action and the claims.
Mr O'Loughlin is also being held personally liable by Aer Lingus. The airline's director of change and engagement, Sean Murphy, confirmed in a letter to Mr O'Loughlin that he is being sued in the action.
Aer Lingus is also seeking a declaration from the court that the ballot undertaken by SIPTU, which led to the serving of notice of industrial action, was unlawful because it was not held in accordance with the Industrial Relations Act.
The dispute that led to industrial action being called centres on a long-running pensions issue. The legal action is certain to infuriate the union and inflame ongoing efforts to finalise a resolution.
The airline, which hasn't yet specified the extent of the damages it's seeking, is also looking for a declaration from the High Court that no valid trade dispute existed between it and the union under the Industrial Relations Act and that the trade union failed to adhere to the terms of a collective agreement by not exhausting all avenues open to resolving any dispute.
Industrial action against the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), Shannon Airport and Aer Lingus had been scheduled to take place with a four-hour work stoppage yesterday morning. Due to the St Patrick's weekend and sporting fixtures, it was one of the busiest days on the country's aviation calendar.
Aer Lingus had to rebook passengers with other airlines, reschedule aircraft, cancel flights and hire in aircraft to operate services as it had to make provisions for the planned industrial action.
On Wednesday, the High Court granted the DAA an injunction to prevent the industrial action from proceeding. The injunction was also extended to prevent action at Shannon Airport, which is now a separate entity to the DAA. The injunction didn't prevent unrest at Aer Lingus, but the union called off its action at the airline.
"The damage had already been done," said Aer Lingus in a statement as the legal action was launched