Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Aer Lingus staff defiant on strike

Aer Lingus cabin crew and ground, administration and clerical staff will take strike action over pensions next Monday

Aer Lingus staff will stick to their guns and go ahead with a two-hour strike next week following further rows over pensions.

The Siptu union dug in its heels in protest at Aer Lingus demands that any contribution to plug the deficit in its pension scheme be offset by staff productivity.

As the latest fight in the ongoing saga unfolded following crunch talks on Monday, Aer Lingus accused union members of using customers as leverage. "The threat of industrial action has not been withdrawn," said Siptu spokesman Frank Connolly.

The dispute centres on the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme, a pension pot for Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport Authority staff that is in deficit by almost 750 million euro.

Mr Connolly said the union wanted further clarification from Aer Lingus on suggestions that negotiations over the pension deficit would involve so-called productivity stabilisation measures.

He added: "They want to tie any commitments to restore the damage to the pension fund caused by the airline to productivity. What we are saying is pension has nothing to do with terms and conditions of service."

However, a spokesman for Aer Lingus insisted the organisation's position for cost stabilisation measures involving workers had been consistent and remains unchanged.

"Aer Lingus find it most regrettable that Siptu has taken this decision to use Aer Lingus customers as leverage in a dispute, for which a way forward is clearly available," he added.

Unless an agreement is reached between Aer Lingus and Siptu, along with four other trade unions - Impact, Unite, TEEU and Mandate - staff will stop work between 10am and noon on Monday November 19. Cabin crew and ground, administration and clerical staff will take part in the strike.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said: "I'm disappointed that Siptu shop stewards at Aer Lingus have not withdrawn their notice of industrial action, even though their union welcomed the joint initiative put forward by Congress and IBEC last Friday."

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