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4,000 to be hit in Aer Lingus airport strike

Between 3,000 and 4,000 Aer Lingus passengers are facing flight disruptions after staff announced plans to hold a two-hour work stoppage.

The industrial action involving 2,500 staff comes after unions reached a stalemate with management over a €748m hole in the pension pot.

Workers across the five unions at Aer Lingus will down tools between 10am and noon on Monday, November 19.

Dozens of flights from Dublin, Cork and Shannon will be hit -- with the transatlantic flights expected to be worst hit.

It is expected that this is just the beginning of the strike and could escalate into a widespread campaign of industrial action.

However, the unions involved, which include Impact, Siptu, the TEEU and Unite, said that there was a possibility that disruption could be avoided if Aer Lingus management agreed to re-enter the negotiations and attend hearings at the Labour Court.

The two sides came to an impasse last week when the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) decided to adjourn talks indefinitely.



Imposed

Aer Lingus said it did not walk away from discussions at the LRC.

But it is believed that the airline does not want to go to the Labour Court as it believes it would be inappropriate for a decision of the court to be imposed on its shareholders.

The ideal solution for Aer Lingus would emerge from talks at the LRC, which could then be recommended to shareholders.

Yesterday, the question of the pension debacle led to a delay in the release of dividends to shareholders.

The uncertainty over the future treatment of Aer Lingus pensioners has led to a further adjournment of the airline's application to release €500m from its capital reserves to pay dividends to shareholders.

Mr Justice Roderick Murphy had last July refused to sanction the €500m reduction sought unless Aer Lingus provided for potential legal claims resulting from a deficit in the pension fund stated in court to be €930m.

The trustees of the pension schemes owed duties to the Aer Lingus pensioners and are contingent creditors of Aer Lingus in the circumstances of a shortfall in funding of the schemes, he ruled.

hnews@herald.ie


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