Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Aer Lingus dispute: More flights threatened by row over new staff rosters

Aer Lingus passengers face the threat of further disruption to their travel plans today after a row over new staff rosters grounded two transatlantic flights yesterday.

More than 310 passengers were affected yesterday when the airline cancelled a flight from Dublin to Boston and also the return journey.

The airline offered to accommodate customers on flights to New York later yesterday or to Boston today.

The Boston route was cancelled after a major clash between management and 30 cabin crew, who refused to work new rosters on up to 10 flights.

There is a risk of more cancellations today as the cabin crew union IMPACT plans to continue a work-to-rule and to refuse to cooperate with roster changes.

Aer Lingus said it avoided massive disruption to numerous flights yesterday by bringing in cabin crew from other bases but was unable to get the crew needed to staff the Boston flights.

It said the crew members on the Boston route were sent home after refusing to take over the duties of an absent cabin manager or to work for a replacement supervisor on the same grade. Management said the cabin crew members could face being struck off the payroll.

The escalation in the dispute follows 14 weeks of work-to-rule action by the cabin crew over previous roster changes.

"Aer Lingus sincerely regrets that these flights have been cancelled," said the airline.

"The sole responsibility for these cancellations, and the corresponding disruption to customers' travel plans, lies with the IMPACT trade union, which continues to take industrial action despite 15 months of negotiation, agreement, clarification, conciliation and binding arbitration."

However, IMPACT claimed the flight cancellations were avoidable despite its work-to-rule.

The union claimed management could have rostered other cabin managers who were available for work.

It said all transatlantic flights must have a cabin manager on board under the terms of a deal agreed at the Labour Relations Commission last year.

It said the flight to Boston did not have a cabin manager and the airline insisted that one of the cabin crew take over the position, rather than roster other cabin managers.

Under its work-to-rule it said it was not participating in any 'acting up' duties, including those of cabin managers.

Management insists the cabin crew have already agreed to work the rosters as part of an agreed increase to 850 hours of work a year under its ?97m cost-cutting Greenfield plan.

But the cabin crew say they have signed up to the rise in hours, but not the new rosters being imposed by management.

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