Sunday 19 November 2017

Aviation workers to vote on pensions' row deal

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller
Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller

Anne-Marie Walsh

AVIATION workers are set to vote on a new plan to end a row over a €780m hole in their crisis-hit pension scheme.

The dispute over retirement benefits for more than 14,000 former and current staff has already threatened to close the country's main airports.

Union members are now preparing to vote on fresh proposals. But if measures put forward by The Expert Panel on the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS) do not get their backing, strikes may loom once more.

Under the panel's proposals, employers would provide more funding to plug the shortfall.

Aer Lingus' contribution to the scheme is likely to be well in excess of €176.7m, under the recommendations.

The panel also recommended that the Dublin Airport Authority increase the contribution it makes to €57.3m from around €50m.

Warned

SIPTU, representing 2,800 Dublin Airport Authority and Aer Lingus staff, has warned it will ballot for industrial action if its members reject the plan.

A four-hour strike over the deficit was halted at the airports at the eleventh hour just ahead of the St Patrick's weekend, after the Dublin Airport Authority was granted a High Court injunction.

And senior union sources last night warned that an acceptance of the report is by no means a foregone conclusion.

SIPTU said it will study its complex findings carefully before consulting its members.

IMPACT said it will ballot members on the proposals following internal meetings with branches and other unions.

The union said the situation facing scheme members will deteriorate further if the report is not accepted.

"The authors warn that the scheme trustees will move to freeze the scheme for future service and cut accrued benefits by 20pc if this initiative fails," said the union.

In a stock market announcement, Aer Lingus noted it was being asked to increase its contribution for existing staff.

Chief executive Christoph Mueller had wanted the report delayed, as he feels shareholders may reject the proposals without extra cost-offsetting measures.

Dublin Airport Authority said it will review the report.

The IASS pension scheme covers current and former workers at Dublin Airport Authority, Aer Lingus, Shannon Airport Authority and SR Technics.

Irish Independent

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