STRIKE action, which would have grounded Aer Lingus at the height of the busy summer months, has been averted after the company and SIPTU shopstewards reached agreement on cost-saving measures.
The measures, which will save the company €10m per year through new staff rostering and mobility initiatives, had been rejected by the union’s members in two separate ballots.
In the last of those ballots the majority of staff had actually voted in favour of acceptance. However, because three whole sections, Dublin loading, Shannon ground operations and Dublin station clerical, had voted en masse against, the union’s rules meant it had to report an overall rejection.
On Wednesday, the airline told the union it was going to press ahead with implementing the changes in the 10 sections that had voted in favour. That decision was the subject of intense discussion between SIPTU shop stewards yesterday.
It is understood contact was made several times with the company during the deliberations.
After several hours, SIPTU issued a statement in which it said it rejected the company plan to “unilaterally implement management proposals”.
“However, in an effort to avoid a damaging dispute for the employees, the company and the travelling public, the shop stewards committee has unanimously endorsed a proposal for an interim agreement to allow the implementation of the proposals in the areas which have accepted them,” a union spokesman said.
“Parallel discussions will commence to find a resolution for the sections which rejected the proposals, which would be held under the auspices of a third party.”
That process is expected to begin in the LRC on Monday.
A spokesman for the union said all the shop stewards had voted in favour of the proposals.
Aer Lingus welcomed SIPTU’s decision and said it would engage constructively with the union in finding a resolution in the outstanding sections.
It is expected to phase in the new arrangements in the sections that agreed over the next few days.
Yesterday’s breakthrough is a huge success for the company. It has been trying to get the cost-saving measures implemented for the past 18 months and has faced multiple strike threats, not just from ground crew but also from cabin crew and pilots.
The company can now expect to save a total of €20m each year, staff cost reductions that it claims are essential if it is to survive in the increasingly competitive aviation industry.
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