'We're ready, willing and able to work -- just not on these terms'
Published 22/01/2011 | 05:00
NORMALLY, Aer Lingus cabin crew rush by in a blur of perfectly coiffed hair and neatly pressed uniforms, leaving a waft of perfume in their wake.
Yesterday was a little different. They moved at a funereal pace, four by four, past the new Terminal 2 as they pressed the point home that they were 'anseo' and available to work.
Up to 300 took part in the protest in Dublin and a similar demonstration took place at Cork airport.
A simple message carried by Karen Jones, with the airline for 11 years, and her three-year-old daughter, Chloe, read: "Unfaer to my mum."
"At the moment I'm working part time, that is probably going to be gone by March 14," Ms Jones said.
"I could be working away from base for 27 days, I've two boys -- a six-year-old and a four-year-old.
"Basically, they won't see mom. It will be impossible to have a family life with three young kids and work.
"We are giving them the 850 hours they are looking for and that is no problem, but they are trying to take away all our conditions and basically work us to death."
At the front of the march -- which was destined for the Aer Lingus head office where a letter showing they were "ready, willing and able" to work was being handed in to chief executive Christoph Mueller -- was Bernice Turley, who has been with the airline for 13 years. "If we don't make a stand on this one, it will be something more going forward," she said.
Steward Adele Campbell, accompanied by her 16-month-old daughter, Aine, said the new "tour of duty" meant they could be away for several days in a row.
"I could come in at 6am. They could change my duties by three hours, which would delay your time going home in the evening as well," said Ms Campbell.
"We want to see our company doing well. I love my job, I have no intention of leaving. We have given up a lot. This time around it is just a bit too much."
Around 20 pilots were also out to show support. "It is a shame the company has decided to suspend our colleagues in the way they have done, when it could be resolved," said Aer Lingus pilot Joe May, a vice-president of union IMPACT.