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Aer Lingus talks progress but more flights hit

TALKS between Aer Lingus and cabin crew members over working hours were at a critical stage last night at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), where they will resume today.

However, flight chaos will continue at the airline today as more than 1,000 passengers will be affected by the grounding of 24 flights. The affected flights are between Dublin Airport and Cork, and Dublin and Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Zurich, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Brussels and Dusseldorf.

A return flight between Cork and Munich has also been cancelled as well as return flights between Dublin and New York and Orlando.

Sources said progress was made at discussions yesterday and both sides were close to agreement.

They said if any issues were not agreed they would be referred to the chief executive of the LRC, Kieran Mulvey, for binding arbitration.

A total of 22 flights were grounded yesterday -- 10 return flights between Dublin Airport and Europe and a return flight between Shannon Airport and Heathrow. The airline has cancelled roughly 10pc of its flight schedule over the past week.

Aer Lingus began cancelling flights more than two weeks ago after striking staff who refused to work new rosters off the payroll. More than 300 crew have been taken off the payroll and are going through a disciplinary process that could lead to them being sacked.

Hope that the dispute could be resolved was raised last Thursday when both sides agreed to talks. This followed an invitation from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and employer group IBEC.

The new rosters mean the cabin crew must work longer with less time off.

Staff voted in favour of an increase in their hours in the air -- to 16 hours a week -- last year, but have objected to other elements of new rosters that bring in these longer hours.

Their union IMPACT has listed changes to other rostering rules as major objections.

They include changes to 'rest' time between flights, double shifts, meal breaks, and delays before flights.

The airline claims the rules on most of these issues have only been altered slightly.

Irish Independent