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Aer Lingus flights chaos looms as unions meet on action

TRAVEL chaos for hundreds of Aer Lingus passengers has moved a step closer as airport unions meet to agree a plan of joint industrial action against the airline.

Officials from Impact, Siptu, Mandate and the TEEU -- which between them represent around 2,500 Aer Lingus staff -- meet today following the collapse of talks over a €750m deficit in the Aer Lingus/Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) pension scheme.

Union officials will meet to agree coordinated industrial action in Aer Lingus and will decide when and what form that action will take.

Impact, one of the unions involved, warned that industrial action against Aer Lingus could take the form of coordinated one-day strikes.

The airline must be given two weeks' notice of any industrial action, but any stoppage could cause severe disruption to Aer Lingus passengers at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports in the coming weeks, starting early in November.

Union officials have already warned that industrial action was inevitable after talks broke down last week at the Labour Relations Commission.

Aer Lingus declined to comment, but Impact said management's refusal to make cash contributions as part of a package of changes to its superannuation scheme had raised fears that trustees could wind up the pension scheme.

The superannuation scheme covers all DAA staff and all Aer Lingus workers with the exception of pilots.

"For airport workers, the collapse of this scheme without an adequate alternative in place would create the financial retirement disaster that every family dreads," said IMPACT national secretary Matt Staunton.

Irish Independent