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Thursday 18 September 2014

Hundreds to lose jobs if Aer Lingus rosters change

Niall O'Connor, Anne-Marie Walsh and John Mulligan

Published 28/05/2014 | 02:30

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Workers warned demands could cost jobs
Workers warned demands could cost jobs

AER Lingus warned its cabin crew that roster changes they demand would force the airline to slash hundreds of jobs here.

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Aer Lingus executive for flight operations Robert Somers told cabin crew in a letter that introducing the new roster demanded by trade union IMPACT would require a "complete separation of long-haul and short-haul flying for cabin crew".

"This major change would drive large inefficiencies in our operations, significant increases in costs, and would necessitate measures to address these increased costs," he warned.

He warned it would mean cutting the number of Ireland-based cabin crew by 300 and setting up new bases in North America.

"These measures include the establishment of North American bases to service transatlantic flights."

Cabin crew are planning a strike this Friday, which has already forced tens of thousands of passengers to rearrange their travel plans.

Aer Lingus has stopped taking bookings because of the planned strike action, and would normally expect to carry around 40,000 passengers on the Friday of the June bank holiday weekend.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan warned that plans by families to travel abroad this weekend will be "totally demolished" if Aer Lingus cabin crew proceed with strike action.

Mr Noonan urged both sides of the dispute to come together and added that any strike action will place a "very big imposition" on those seeking to travel over the weekend.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, Mr Noonan said that many families were looking forward to seeing their children who have emigrated.

Mediation

He called on trade union representatives and Aer Lingus officials to come together and use the "mediation machinery of the State".

"I think it's unfair and a lesser initiative should be taken. But I would appeal to all sides to come together and use the mediation machinery of the State and see if it can be resolved. I'm appealing to both sides, I'm sure there are faults on both sides."

Meanwhile, Mr Somers also wrote to IMPACT assistant general secretary Michael Landers yesterday inviting him to talks regarding the roster dispute.

"We are committed to finding solutions that address genuine roster issues without adding cost or increased complexity to the business," he told Mr Landers. "We invite you to meet with us to discuss these matters."

Cabin crew want the same 'five days on and three days off' roster as pilots but the airline claims this is "unworkable".

It says that, unlike cockpit crew who work either on short- or long-haul routes, cabin crew work both.

As a result, it said it would have to apply a dual set of "completely inefficient" roster rules.

It claimed the cabin crew would get another 32 paid days off if it gave in to their demands, which would push up the price of flights and put jobs at risk.

IMPACT said the cabin crew would work the same hours but time off would be taken in a bigger block.

Independent TD Clare Daly called on the Government to use its shareholding in Aer Lingus to satisfy the demands of workers and implement the Labour Court recommendation on the issue of rosters.

"Your Government holds that shareholding. Combined with the staff, you have an influence greater than anyone else," she said.

Irish Independent

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