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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Summer Aer Lingus strike chaos looms for passengers

How this newspaper revealed the story on Wednesday.Sarah Stack

Published 10/05/2014 | 02:30

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IMPACT official Michael Landers
IMPACT official Michael Landers

THE threat of a summer strike at Aer Lingus moved closer after cabin crew voted to take industrial action in a row over rosters.

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Passengers will be concerned about a strike over the busy summer months after 97pc of Impact union members backed the ballot.

Aer Lingus said it was aware of the result and remained in talks with union leaders. "We have not been notified of any planned industrial action, and continue to engage with the Impact cabin crew representatives to address their concerns," said an airline spokesman.

The dispute centres on a row over rosters for short-haul services and time-off arrangements after long-haul flights.

Cabin crew want a roster similar to those for pilots at the airline, with "five days on, three days off".

Impact official Michael Landers said the result of the ballot – for industrial action up to and including strike action – indicated the depth of feeling about the issues contained in the ballot.

"The current roster patterns are best described as erratic," he said. "We have sought consultation with management on the implementation of a more sustainable and predictable roster which is already in place for pilots and which many other airlines also have in place for cabin crew.

"But management simply haven't engaged with us, and today's result demonstrates the frustration of cabin crew as a result."

The former state carrier has been hit with several strike warnings in recent years which have threatened to ground flights at busy times.

More than 1,000 crew members based in Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports took part in the latest ballot, which this week called for action in the event of further breaches of existing collective agreements. Some 96pc of staff are also in favour of reaching an agreement in the long-running dispute over pensions, Impact revealed.

The union says 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.

The Government, which has a 25pc shareholding in the airline, last week voted against a €1.5m pay package to chief executive Christoph Mueller.

It deemed it was "inappropriate" when thousands of current and former workers were facing cuts to pensions because of a near €800m deficit at the defined benefit Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme. But the motion was passed at its AGM after Ryanair – which has a 29.9pc stake in the airline – voted in favour of the so-called "say on pay" resolution.

Irish Independent

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