Belfast Telegraph

Airline staff in second ballot over cost cutting measures

By Cormac Murphy and Peter Woodman

Aer Lingus cabin crew have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action in a row over cost reduction measures.

The margin of the ballot of members of trade union IMPACT was 96% in favour on a turnout of 67%.

But the union said they did not intend to take strike action or cause disruption to customers, while Aer Lingus also promised passengers there would be no disruption to flights.

The row centres on the implementation of a €97m cost-saving plan at the airline.

While the cost-cutting plan was approved by cabin crew a number of months ago following an initial rejection, they are unhappy with the way the measures are to operate.

As part of the push to save money by Aer Lingus management, 'flight time' was to be increased to 850 hours per year.

Flight time begins when an aircraft starts to move from the terminal and ends when it comes to a stop after landing.

However, cabin crew also spend time performing other duties such as checking in.

Aer Lingus management described the decision to hold a ballot as "deeply regrettable".

The company said, after 10 months of talks and two separate ballots, it was at a loss to understand why another vote was necessary.

Meanwhile long-running negotiations involving British Airways' ground staff at Heathrow Airport appeared close to an end last night.

The GMB and Unite unions said they had reached agreement in principle with BA regarding staffing and working arrangements and would ballot 3,000 staff with a recommendation they accept the deal.

The deal involves 500 voluntary job losses, with 200 staff having already left, and a one-year pay freeze.

Mick Rix, GMB's civil aviation national officer, said: "This new deal, if accepted by our members, will bring to an end a period of uncertainty and speculation regarding the security of employment of members at BA at Heathrow.

"It has been a long hard slog but in the end the negotiations have proved successful and we are recommending the outcome to our members who will now vote on the deal."

BA is still in dispute with its cabin crew in a continuing row that has cost the airline many millions of pounds following a series of strikes this year.

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