Friday 31 October 2014

Staff unrest will prevent creation of 150 jobs, Aer Lingus boss claims

Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 09/06/2014 | 02:30

Aer Lingus staff at the entrance to Dublin airport, during the strike on the June bank holiday weekend, which chief executive Christoph Mueller called “the most damaging industrial action in over a decade”. Photo: Artur Widak/PA Wire
Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller
Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller

The chief executive of strike-hit Aer Lingus has warned staff that they are preventing the creation of jobs.

Christoph Mueller bluntly told staff that 150 jobs could be created next year "if we can have industrial peace".

In a message to all employees, he called on them to "understand the irrevocable consequences of another strike" after IMPACT lodged notice of two more 24-hour strikes next week.

He said the airline had already experienced "the most damaging industrial action for more than a decade" during a work stoppage at the start of the June bank holiday weekend.

In the letter, sent on Saturday, Mr Mueller said the airline lost a significant amount of money and the "confidence and support of its most loyal customers", who are now trying to plan their summer holidays.

The airline is locked in a row with cabin crew over rosters, but Mr Mueller said he did not understand why notice of further industrial action was served, or what cabin crew were seeking.

IMPACT cabin crew have demanded a fixed pattern 'five day on, three day off' roster, similar to a roster worked by pilots.

They served notice of industrial action last Friday after claiming they were issued with a "take it or leave it" ultimatum by the company, which meant they would not be able to meet their flying hour targets for the year.

But Mr Mueller claimed that when the airline explained that "certain lifestyle requests" implemented into the rosters over the years would have to go, the cabin crew's representatives no longer wanted the 'five day on, three day off' roster.

He said they only wanted it for 320 cabin crew in the winter, on a trial basis.

"In fact a colleague forwarded a text message to me last Thursday, which had been sent to cabin crew, seeking to find out who actually wanted to have a 5:3 roster," he said.

"Ask yourself how a trade union can print placards with the slogan '5:3, it works as well as we do', lead its members on a strike disrupting tens of thousands of paying customers, and then ask its members who would like to work on a 5:3 roster?"

He said the airline planned to commit €100m aircraft capacity assets next summer, but did not have the certainty that its employees wanted to follow it in its expansion strategy.

"I see the potential to create 150 new jobs for next year if we can have industrial peace and certainty around our resource planning," he said.

Instead, he said the airline faces another "harmful and unnecessary assault" on its customers and must now set up a plan to minimise disruption.


"I call upon all employees to understand the irrevocable consequences of another strike," he said.

He said the commercial success of Aer Lingus had allowed it to provide some of the best working conditions and job security in Ireland and the global aviation industry.

"Every day of strike damages our ability to maintain our working conditions and security," he said. "Strikes harm our customers, our shareholders and ourselves as employees."

He said Irish society is watching the airline and asking questions about this strike.

Mr Mueller said there were two options – to optimise the current roster, or else a complete redesign.

He said the last option required time for analytic work, and this was where talks with cabin crew were at last Friday.

Irish Independent

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