Tuesday 12 December 2017

One third of Aer Lingus cabin crew rely on sleep medication - report

Health & Wellbeing Report

Aer Lingus stock photo. Pic: Deposit
Aer Lingus stock photo. Pic: Deposit
Flying high. Photo: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

A report by trade union IMPACT claims that rates of ill-health among Aer Lingus cabin crew are "extraordinarily high".

The Health & Wellbeing report, compiled for IMPACT by Dr Richard Wynne of the Dublin-based Work Research Centre, took place over 28 days in July 2014.

It examined health indicators among Aer Lingus cabin crew based in Dublin, Shannon and Cork, and found the rate of ill-health to be "extraordinarily high".

Almost 50pc of respondents said they had worked while sick, with 39.4pc saying they did so to avoid the company's disciplinary process, IMPACT says.

"Their level of psychological well being was very low," said Michael Landers, IMPACT Assistant General Secretary, who added that cabin crew showed an above average rate of digestive disorders and problems with sleep disruption, "to the point that a full one third of cabin crew were relying on sleep medication at least once a week".

Contacted by Independent.ie Travel, Aer Lingus said it operates in one of the most highly-regulated industries in the world "and gives particular care and attention to ensure the health and well-being of our employees."

The airline said it has well-established processes and procedures which address health and well-being issues, and that the report authors had not consulted with or sought any input from Aer Lingus in the compiling of the survey.

Respondents to the survey also expressed a high-level of dissatisfaction with rosters, with 34pc describing morale at work as "very low".

“Compared to data collected by the Work Research Centre and ESRI, the survey indicates that cabin crew report among the highest levels of psychological distress of all occupation groups, including teachers and health care workers,” Landers said.

Aer Lingus responded that the in-flight working environment is highly regulated at national, European and global levels, and that it complies with all relevant codes and standards.

"The structures and processes to ensure the health and well-being of our employees sit outside of the normal industrial relations frameworks within the company," it added.

The Health & Wellbeing report was carried out in July 2014, following a series of disputes between the airline and union over staff rostering.

In conclusion, Dr Wynne recommends a joint union/management approach on health and safety, among other rostering and wellbeing improvements.

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