Airline bosses step up pressure in roster row
Published 25/01/2011 | 05:00
AER Lingus cabin crew will be put under extra pressure today to sign up to controversial new rosters as a row with management intensifies.
The number of staff who have been taken off the payroll reached 175 yesterday, as both sides remained entrenched in their positions and the airline continued to hire in planes and crews to operate routes.
Now managers are to begin a fresh series of one-to-one meetings to exert more pressure on staff to sign up to the rosters.
Last night, a spokesperson for the airline said four people, who were not included in the 175 figure of those who have been taken off the payroll, have signed "declarations" to work the rosters.
However, the Impact trade union, which represents cabin crew, questioned this and said members were continuing to stand firm in their positions.
"What is very clear when you talk to cabin crew and you see them as a group is they are absolutely unified on this issue.
"Their unity stems from the fact that they are not going to be bullied into submission by their employer," a spokesman said.
"They are getting support from union officials and their colleagues to stand firm on this particular issue.
"No more than they were intimidated into signing that document last week are they going to be intimidated this week either," he added.
The Aer Lingus spokesperson said there remained the possibility that staff could be dismissed from their positions.
The airline has hired in nine planes, complete with crews, to operate routes that have been disrupted as a result of the roster row.
Impact has said the extra planes are costing the airline at least €400,000 a day through refunds for passengers, paying the salaries of its own pilots and newspaper advertisements.
Aer Lingus has refused to comment on how much the planes cost.
The airline's threat to fire workers came after more than 4,000 passengers were affected when 50 flights were cancelled last week.
On Friday, 280 cabin crew marched to Aer Lingus headquarters at Dublin Airport to deliver a letter to company chief executive Christoph Mueller.
In it, the workers stated they remained "ready, willing and able" to work and loyal to Aer Lingus, but were also "loyal to each other and to our families, whose quality of life we are trying to protect".
The changes are part of the airline's plan to increase the cabin crews' flying hours to 850 a year.
Among the disputed changes is a measure that could result in a crew member's working day being delayed by up to three hours in the event of a disruption, such as staff illness.
The airline claims that this is standard practice globally, and the previous arrangement was a delay of up to two hours.