Mueller warns Aer Lingus staff about job security

Trade union Impact accuses airline of not negotiating in good faith

Martin Wall

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller has warned staff that their job security and working conditions are being damaged every day the company is hit by strike action.

In a letter sent to the airline’s 4,000 employees in the wake of the announcement of two 24-hour work stoppages planned for next week, he said they enjoyed some of the best working conditions and employment security in Ireland and in the aviation industry internationally. He said staff should understand “the irrevocable consequences of another strike”.

He said a previous 24-hour strike by cabin crew late last month had been the most damaging industrial action experienced by the airline for more than a decade, had cost it a significant amount of money and lost it the confidence and support of its most loyal customers.

He said there was potential to create a further 150 new jobs at the airline for next year if there was industrial peace and certainty around resource planning.

As things stand at present there has been no outside intervention aimed at averting the planned new work stoppages by cabin crew as part of a dispute over rosters.

The airline said that over 35,000 people could be affected by each of the strikes planned for Monday 16th and Wednesday 18th June.

Aer Lingus described the planned strikes as “reckless and “unwarranted”.

The trade union Impact, which represents cabin crew, said mangement had not been negotiating in good faith on revising roster arrangements.

It accused the company of deliberately engineering a situtation in which the introduction of a new roster arrangement would appear to be “less efficient and most costly than the current chaotic roster”.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the possibility of further industrial action at Aer Lingus was a matter of “grave concern”.

He said the State’s industrial relations machinery remained available and that it should be utilised if direct negotiations had proved unsuccessful.

It is understood that the Labour Relations Commission made contact with the parties on Friday night but, as yet, there is no plan for a formal invitation to talks. There was speculation over the weekend that the Labour Court could become involved but sources said this had not happened yet.

Impact said there had been no invitation received from the Labour Relations Commission but it would respond positively if received one.

The union said it remained available for talks with the company. Aer Lingus said it would welcome the assistance of a third party in dealing with its dispute with cabin crew.

Mr Mueller said in his letter he failed to understand what specific types of rosters were being demanded by cabin crew and why two further days of strike action were being planned.

He said it was obvious that more cabin crew at the airline balloted for the introduction of a new 5:3 fixed roster pattern – five days on duty, followed by three days off – than actually wanted it.

He said the company had offered last Wednesday to implement a fixed pattern roster as sought by the union but that “a lot of features which we had implemented into our rosters over the years, to facilitate certain lifestyle requests, would have to go”.

“Once this was explained to the cabin crew representatives, they appeared not to want 5:3 any longer; or only for approximately 320 cabin crew and then only in winter on a trial basis.”

Impact in a letter to the company accused it of hedging its proposals “with preconditions that were designed to make it unworkable”.

Author Information

Travel Agent: ITAA