Aer Lingus cabin crew ‘appalled’ company will not be attending a Labour Court hearing on its Shannon airport closure

Aer Lingus

Ciara O'Loughlin

Aer Lingus cabin crew are “appalled” that management decided it will not be attending a Labour Court hearing due to be held on July 19 over on the closure of its Shannon airport base.

Fórsa, the union which represents the crew at the airline,  referred the issue to the Labour Court after the two sides failed to reach an agreement over staff transfers and redundancy terms.

Aer Lingus announced in May that it would be closing its Shannon base, which employs 38 cabin crew.

At the time, Fórsa said it demanded meaningful engagement from management aimed at maximising job retention, with redeployment prioritised over redundancy.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) wrote to Aer Lingus earlier this week, saying its refusal to attend a Labour Court hearing was “a very serious development,” which “marks a significant departure on the part of the company from normal and agreed industrial relations procedures.”

Fórsa official Ian McDonnell accused the company of disrespecting loyal staff, as well as the Labour Court.

According to the trade union, Aer Lingus emailed cabin crew yesterday asking them to apply to transfer to Dublin or Cork, or opt for redundancy. The union is calling this “take it or leave it” terms.

“Aer Lingus has received hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ Euro throughout the Covid crisis,” he said,

"Now it has spurned the State’s top industrial relations body, declared an incomplete consultation over, and ordered staff to respond to its ‘take it or leave it’ terms.

"Far from trying to save jobs in the battered aviation sector, the airline’s approach is increasing the risk that loyal staff will be made redundant against their will and on substandard terms.”

When asked by about the decision to not attend the Labour Court hearing, a spokesperson for Aer Lingus said: “The cumulative consequences of the crisis over the last 16 months leaves Aer Lingus facing significant restructuring to rebuild its network and financial strength.

"This includes the permanent closure of the Aer Lingus cabin crew base at Shannon Airport.

"There has not been a flight out of Shannon since April 2020. The decision to close the Shannon cabin crew base was not taken lightly and a reversal will not be possible.”