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More flights hit as talks drag on

TALKS aimed at resolving the Aer Lingus dispute were expected to continue today at the Labour Relations Commission after they adjourned without agreement last night.

LRC Director of Conciliation Kevin Foley adjourned the proceedings to allow the commission to reflect on what has been said against the background of what it was asked to do by IBEC and Congress.

The commission was set to make contact with both parties around lunchtime today. At that point it was to make a final assessment as to whether there is any value in reconvening the process.

The airline is now hoping to run a full schedule again next week as the talks edge closer to a deal with cabin crew over contentious new rosters. However, it has already cancelled more than 20 flights this weekend.

About 215 members of cabin crew at Aer Lingus have been taken off the payroll since Monday of last week for refusing to operate new rosters which were introduced by the company.

The new talks follow a joint intervention by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) and the employers' body Ibec.

Several thousand passengers have been affected by the cancellation of dozens of flights over recent days.

Aer Lingus has said the new rosters were essential in achieving an increase in flying hours for cabin crew agreed as part of an overall cost-saving plan known as Greenfield.

Cabin crew have said that while they have agreed to the additional flying hours, the rosters put in place are too onerous and are not family-friendly.

During talks yesterday, Mr Foley was briefed by Ibec Director of Industrial Relations Brendan McGinty and ICTU General Secretary David Begg.

Aer Lingus management and the Impact union have agreed to a two-stage talks process. In the first stage, the sides will attend the LRC for conciliation, which will allow them to refine the contentious issues.

Once that refining process is complete, the parties will clarify those issues with arbitrator Kieran Mulvey. However, Mr Foley said the company was prepared to look at anything that could guarantee 850 hours.