Monday 16 September 2019

Aer Lingus workers set to get shopping vouchers instead of profit share


Pic: Aer Lingus
Pic: Aer Lingus

Fearghal O'Connor

Aer Lingus staff look set to fail in their bid to win a lucrative profit-share scheme from the booming airline, after the Labour Court recommended a 1pc pay rise and payment of €300 worth of vouchers.

With Aer Lingus pre-tax profits soaring to €270m in 2017 - allowing it to pay a €200m dividend to British owner IAG last year - a profit-share scheme could have meant a big financial boost for airline staff.

But management has long insisted that it would only introduce a so-called "gain share" model, which differs from a profit share in that payments would be linked to measurable outcomes such as absenteeism and on-time performance.

The Labour Court recommendation, signed by its chairman Kevin Foley, said that "an approach should be taken to the matter... outside of the construction of a 'profit share' scheme as such". It recommended the 1pc pay rise from the beginning of this year and a payment in vouchers.

Aer Lingus chief operating officer Mike Rutter
Aer Lingus chief operating officer Mike Rutter

The court also dealt with concerns, reported in the Sunday Independent, that management at the airline had outlined in a memo in November about security issues at the airline. Chief operating officer Mike Rutter caused outrage amongst staff with his claim about "theft of guest property, damage to company property and interference with colleagues property."

The Labour Court recommended that management and unions "should engage in order to develop a shared understanding of any issue of concern as regards security in the airline".

"Having developed a shared understanding of any such problem the parties should engage to explore all possible solutions."

It said that if agreement could not be reached over security issues after three months then the matter should be referred back to the court.

The court's recommendation about the wider dispute at the airline noted that it had been the subject of a conciliation conference at the Workplace Relations Commission. Agreement was not reached and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court, where a hearing took place last December.

The court pointed out that an internal dispute-resolution mechanism at the airline had not convened for 18 months and that its "continuing value" should be reviewed due to the "low rate of acceptance of its decisions over its lifetime".

A spokeswoman for Aer Lingus said that she could confirm that the airline had received "the Labour Court recommendation on gainshare".

"We accept its findings and stand ready to implement accordingly," she said.

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