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Saturday 30 August 2014

Union threatens two more strikes in Aer Lingus cabin crew row

Brian Byrne and Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 07/06/2014 | 02:30

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IMPACT official Michael Landers
IMPACT official Michael Landers

More misery looms for air passengers as the union representing Aer Lingus cabin crew has threatened to hold two further strikes.

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Trade union IMPACT said it is to issue Aer Lingus management with notice of two one-day strikes on Monday, June 16 and Wednesday, June 18 after talks broke down yesterday over the issue of rosters.

The union said management had issued a "take-it-or-leave it" proposal in the long-running dispute over proposed roster changes, which it said management knew would be unacceptable to staff.

Up to 30,000 passengers were affected on Friday, May 28 when cabin crew members held a one-day strike.

It has emerged that up to 400 cabin crew who were rostered to work on the day of the strike had their cheaper travel privileges withdrawn, rather than the 1,250 IMPACT members who took part in the strike as initially reported.

The dispute is over proposed roster changes. Cabin crews are demanding a fixed 'five days on, three days off' roster which Aer Lingus pilots currently enjoy. But the airline says such a system is unworkable and would result in over 300 job losses.

IMPACT spokesman Michael Landers said the union had been willing to continue talks with management over the weekend, but that management had "walked away".

He said management's only proposals in three days of talks would require staff who currently fly short and long haul flights to be rostered solely for one or the other.

Mr Landers said this would make the crewing of transatlantic flights from Ireland unviable. He said the "unacceptable take-it-or-leave-it proposal", would "inevitably lead to hundreds of Irish jobs being exported to the USA."

He added that management negotiators blankly refused to test a 5:3 roster across long and short-haul flights.

Current rosters mean cabin crew can work up to 60 hours in a seven-day period, resulting in shift patterns of six working days and one rest day, followed by six more working days.

Last night a spokesman from Aer Lingus said they did not walk out of talks and they want talks to resume next week.

"IMPACT's disregard for customers and Ireland's reputation in (its) latest strike threat is indefensible," he said. "Despite being offered what they sought in last week's strike they have opted to threaten further delays of customer disruption."

The spokesman said Aer Lingus management had agreed to the 5:3 day roster pattern "on the basis that it does not add cost or operational inefficiency to our business".

Collapse

"The alleged reason for this latest threat is the adjournment of discussions in order to give Impact time to consider the latest letter from Aer Lingus," he added. "This adjournment is being referred to by IMPACT as a collapse of the talks. Nothing could be further from the truth. Aer Lingus has offered to implement the desired 5:3 fixed pattern roster on a permanent basis on short-haul flights. At this point it is unclear to Aer Lingus what the real motivation of IMPACT has been in the recent and now newly threatened disruptive action."

He said Aer Lingus will now consider its position regarding the latest threat of strike action.

Irish Independent

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