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Relief as Aer Lingus strike called off...for now

RELIEF at the calling-off of a planned two-hour strike at Aer Lingus has been tempered by ongoing concerns about industrial peace at the airline.

A two-hour work stoppage due to happen on Monday morning would have affected up to 2,000 air travellers. Workers' representatives decided to call off the protest at a Siptu union meeting after clarifications from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and employers' group IBEC on their plan to make progress on talks to tackle the gigantic €748m hole in a staff pension scheme.

Aer Lingus said its regular Monday schedule will operate and apologised to customers for "the uncertainty of recent days". The company had been drawing up contingency plans for Monday, including the merging of flights.

Siptu sector organiser Dermot O'Loughlin rejected a statement from the airline that any improvement in pension funding must be made up elsewhere.

"The committee is determined that it will not engage in any resolution to the current crisis in the pension scheme at Aer Lingus and the DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) that involves our members being forced to accept productivity measures in return for their pension entitlements," he warned.

Some 2,500 cabin crew, ground staff and administration workers were due to stop working at 10am next Monday at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports for two hours. It follows a long-running dispute over how to tackle the massive deficit in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme.