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Chaos averted as cabin crew hold off action

DISRUPTION at Aer Lingus was averted today after cabin crew suspended their threatened industrial action.

The trade union IMPACT said the move was to allow "detailed consideration" of an arbitration finding issued by Labour Relations Commission chief executive Kieran Mulvey yesterday evening.

In a statement, the union said: "The detailed findings, which run to 39 pages and reflect the complex technical issues under consideration, deserves and demands close reading and analysis.

"Time will also be required for cabin crew staff to read, digest and discuss the document.


"It would be unreasonable to press ahead with industrial action while this happens and IMPACT is, therefore, suspending its planned work-to-rule to allow detailed consideration of the arbitration finding."

It noted the findings recommend "a revision of existing agreements ... in order to meet the agreed objective of 850 flying hours a year as part of cabin crews' overall working time".

Aer Lingus argued the changes were necessary to allow for all cabin crew to work the agreed total of 850 flight-hours annually.

But IMPACT said the dispute was "triggered by management's imposition of changed rosters without agreement".

The union, which represents the majority of cabin crew at the airline, called on Aer Lingus to "immediately reverse the harsh and unnecessary changes imposed, without agreement, on cabin crew in recent weeks".

It said the new roster would see cabin crew working longer hours and losing breaks and rest periods.

Mr Mulvey insisted his recommendations "should not be a new negotiation process".

"The opportunity should be taken to work together to produce a 'new book' of whatever colour to provide mutual clarity of the working arrangements for cabin crew," he said.

The cabin crew served formal notice of industrial action on the airline on August 12.

A strike would only have arisen if disciplinary action was taken against crew for working to their original contracts.

Aer Lingus said it was developing contingency plans to deal with every eventuality.

Director of Staff Relations Sean Murphy said, if the increased flying hours were not delivered, the airline would have to hire staff to cover the schedule, which would make no sense when they were trying to cut costs.

The traditional 'black book' agreement on rosters and working time had been dissolved on November 13 to be replaced by the Greenfield cost-reduction package, he said.