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Sunday 31 August 2014

Judge to rule on airport industrial action today

Aodhan O Faolain

Published 12/03/2014 | 02:30

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Mr Justice Paul Gilligan. Picture: Maxwells
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan. Picture: Maxwells

A JUDGE will give his decision today on whether to grant injunctions blocking this Friday's four-hour work stoppage at the country's three main airports.

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The proposed industrial action organised by the trade union SIPTU is set to involve stoppages at Dublin, Cork and Shannon between 5am and 9am. It follows a long-running dispute over cuts in pension benefits for Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) employees.

In High Court proceedings against Siptu, Ryanair and the DAA have asked the High Court to grant injunctions, pending the outcome of the full hearing of the dispute, preventing the proposed industrial action from going ahead.

They have argued that the strike "is illegal" and is not "a valid trade dispute", as defined by the 1990 Industrial Relations Act.

HAVOC

Both claim the stoppage will "cause havoc" and "maximum disruption" to thousands of passengers. The action will effectively close down the airport on one of the busiest weekends of the year, costing "millions of euro".

The applications are opposed by Siptu.

Richard Kean SC, for SIPTU, said the stoppage arises out of "a bona fide trade dispute" concerning the pension rights of workers. Both the DAA's and Ryanair's applications for injunctions were misconceived, counsel said.

Following the conclusion of submissions from both sides yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said he wanted to give the matter "some thought". Given the urgency of the case he would give his ruling today .

In February, union members at Aer Lingus and the DAA voted for industrial action over a €780m deficit in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS), which is jointly operated by Aer Lingus and the DAA.

Separate negotiations betw- een unions, the DAA, and Aer Lingus ended without a resolution late last month.

Siptu notified the DAA, Cork and Shannon airports and Aer Lingus that its members planned to stop work on Friday.

Yesterday, Mark Connaughton SC, for the DAA, said it was his client's case the proposed strike was illegal because it did not arise out of a valid trade dispute.

Counsel also said the ballot of Siptu workers was "flawed" as the union had not complied with its own rules.

The DAA's position was fully supported by Ryanair who, the court heard, would have 93 flights affected by the proposed stoppage.

Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, remarked that, unusually, his client was "in total agreement with the DAA" on an issue.

Irish Independent

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