Last-ditch bid to halt Aer Lingus strike fails
The 24-hour strike by Aer Lingus cabin crew that has already disrupted travel plans for thousands of passengers over the bank holiday weekend will go ahead tomorrow.
That's despite a last-ditch effort to kick-start talks aimed at resolving a dispute over rosters.
Trade union Impact has stood by its decision not to call off the strike despite the prospects of talks with the airline's management aimed at resolving the rostering issue.
Impact assistant general secretary Michael Landers said an invitation by Aer Lingus management on Tuesday to take part in talks came too late to avert the strike.
It is likely the negotiations will not start until next week. An Aer Lingus spokesman said last night that the two sides were now determining a start date for the talks.
Mr Landers insisted that union officials had told Aer Lingus over the past few weeks, including when strike notice was issued on May 13, that they remained available for talks.
"We extended that offer on many occasions previously and stated it again in our strike notice," he said. "The invitation came too late to prevent this action from going ahead, but we would hope that this would make the beginning of a process that would see this issue resolved once and for all."
The strike – expected to cost Aer Lingus in the region of €10m – will go ahead despite calls from Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar for it to be called off and for both sides to sit down and negotiate.
Aer Lingus has already hired aircraft to use tomorrow and rebooked passengers in an effort to minimise disruption, but most of its flights have been cancelled. Cabin crew will picket Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports.
About 265,000 passengers are expected to travel to and from Dublin Airport this weekend, making it one of the busiest weekends of the year there.
An estimated 28,000 passengers had been booked to travel via Aer Lingus tomorrow, with some rebooking to travel today or on Saturday instead.
It's thought that the only way in which the strike could be postponed would be for Aer Lingus to capitulate to the union demand that a new rostering system, already in use by pilots, be trialled with cabin crew.
Mr Landers insisted that Aer Lingus management needed to demonstrate they were serious about negotiating on the issue. Impact claims the existing rostering system for cabin crew is "chaotic" and leaves them exhausted.
Aer Lingus has warned cabin crew that to implement the rostering system they demand, it would have to set up bases in North America, resulting in 300 fewer cabin crew being employed in Ireland. It would also force staff to take more leave in winter rather than summer and reduce access to part-time work, the airline said.