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Flyers facing chaos in Aer Lingus strike

AIR passengers could face travel disruption next month because of a row between Aer Lingus cabin crew and management.

Impact trade union is balloting members for industrial action in the dispute over revised working hours.

The row follows the breakdown of talks at the Labour Relations Commission over management changes to their working hours as part of the company's €97m cost- saving plan.

Impact posted ballot papers to its members yesterday and the ballot will close on Monday week. Any ballot in favour of action would require seven days notice to the company. The cabin crew could then strike or begin a work to rule by the middle of next month.

The union has accused the airline of rowing back on terms and conditions of employment relating to the number of hours they are required to fly in a given year.

Impact members accepted a deal earlier this year, under which flight time would increase to 850 hours a year, after the company had threatened compulsory redundancies.

The current row has arisen over how the new deal would work in practice, with the union claiming that Aer Lingus had begun to act unilaterally by changing rosters.

The union claims that management has backed out of an agreement that 35-hour-a-week contracts should change to 39 hours in order to accommodate the increased hours.

Details of how the new 850-hour flight-time requirements would work were to be finalised in talks between the union and management at the Labour Relations Commission.

But the union said an arbitration process on the issue had been unsuccessful, while attempts to resolve it in talks between the parties had also failed to produce an agreement.

Impact official Christina Carney said that the implementation of the new 850 hours flight-time target was achievable within the terms of existing agreements and contracts of employment of cabin crew.