Unions to discuss 'draconian' Aer Lingus cost-cutting plan

A multi-million euro cost cutting plan that will shed up to 1,500 jobs at Irish airline Aer Lingus will be considered today by union bosses.

The former state carrier’s €74m saving scheme – which includes slashing staff costs by €50m – will be outlined to concerned workers.

Opposition parties and unions have condemned the cuts and described the proposals as draconian and severe.

Siptu, the largest trade union at the airline, said it will ballot members for industrial action.

National industrial secretary Gerry McCormack said the union had made it clear from the start that it totally opposed outsourcing.

“That message does not seem to have gotten through to the management team and therefore we are in the place we are in,” he said.

The airline’s plans include outsourcing ground operations, cargo and catering services at Dublin and ground operations at Cork.

Up to 280 jobs could be lost at Shannon, where ground and cargo services will be outsourced and cabin crews axed.

US-based staff will be hired to work on board long-haul services from America, and just under 20 cabin crew workers based at Heathrow Airport will be affected by the move.

Options offered to staff include voluntary severance, early retirement package, or a transfer to the new service provider.

Airline boss Dermot Mannion said the cuts were necessary in the current circumstances to ensure the airlines continued viability and safeguard long haul services.

Last month the airline announced that it was reviewing operating costs after reporting losses of €22m for the first half of the year.

Its new plans include deducting €14m from its bill for advertising, distribution, airport costs and professional fees and a further €10m from its long-haul services.

Staff and management who stay at the carrier will be hit with a pay freeze until the end of 2009 and new contracts will be issued based on performance-related pay.

It aims to implement the new programme by December 1.

Mr McCormack said nobody in the company will emerge unscathed from this exercise.

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