A UNION considering industrial action against Aer Lingus has agreed with the Transport Minister that the public are sick of strike threats.
But IMPACT insisted they had already exhausted Leo Varadkar's preferred route by holding talks with the airline via the State's industrial relations bodies in a row over rosters.
It accused Aer Lingus of refusing to allow disputes to go to the Labour Court, so it could put forward a compromise.
Mr Varadkar accused the union of engaging in "megaphone diplomacy", saying: "It seems every three months someone in Aer Lingus is threatening to go on strike and they never do."
This followed a warning that strike action could hit the busy summer travel period. More than 1,100 cabin crew are now being balloted on industrial action. They want a "five day on, three day off" working schedule – the same roster worked by pilots.
Mr Varadkar said such problems should be dealt with at state industrial relations bodies – the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court.
"I agree entirely with the man," said IMPACT Assistant General Secretary Michael Landers. "We should be able to do our business with the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court, but the problem is Aer Lingus won't engage in that process. It did engage at the Labour Relations Commission to a point, but on four separate occasions refused to allow the court make a recommendation.
"This is not the ideal way to do business but the solution is in Aer Lingus's hands, not ours.
"We are sick of having to take strike action and would far prefer to do our business in a different way. Nobody wants to be on strike."
Mr Landers claimed the airline had ignored the court's decision on a dispute over supervisors' contracts.
Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Mr Varadkar called for an end to "this old-fashioned trade union activity of threatening strikes", and branded it "megaphone diplomacy".
"I think people are getting pretty sick at this stage about strike threats at Aer Lingus," he said.
"I really think we should have an end to this old-fashioned trade union activity of threatening strikes, and problems like issues over rosters should be dealt with by negotiation and not megaphone diplomacy.
"We have a Labour Relations Commission and a Labour Court which were set up by the State to hear both sides of the story. That's where they should be telling their story rather than this nonsense of making strike threats that never happen.
"And all that does is annoy people and disrupt their holidays. And I think people are sick of it, and certainly I am."
Aer Lingus said it was aware that IMPACT was conducting a ballot.
"We continue to engage with the IMPACT cabin crew representatives to address their concerns," said a spokesperson.