AER LINGUS cabin crew will complete a ballot on industrial action by August 9, with disruption in airline services a possibility later that month.
Yesterday the Impact union, which represents Aer Lingus cabin crew, said they had no option but to ballot workers after a unilateral decision by management to impose increased working hours and changes to their contract conditions.
The union said the ballot was to give approval for industrial action up to and including strike action, which would only occur if management attempted to “to take action against any individual Impact cabin crew member”.
Impact official Christina Carney said: “The reason the cabin crew have decided to ballot on industrial action is because the company unilaterally last month changed their contract of employment, increased their working hours and took away things such as meal breaks.”
The union said the changes were in contravention of a €97 million cost-saving plan endorsed by airline workers in March.
However, management said this agreement covers a 37-hour increase in cabin crews’ monthly working hours as part of the restructuring plan that sees cabin crew flight-time increase to 850 hours per year.
Aer Lingus management released a statement in which they expressed disappointment that workers have decided to ballot “for a third time” on the restructuring plan.
“The airline wishes to reassure its customers that there will be no disruption to their travel plans whatsoever arising out of this latest development,” it said.
Details of how the new 850-hour flight-time rosters would work were to be agreed at Labour Relations Commission discussions between the union and management.
However, this arbitration process was unsuccessful while attempts at direct talks between the parties also failed to produced an agreement.
The ballot commenced yesterday and will close at 2pm on Monday, August 9.
If the ballot supports industrial action a minimum of seven days’ notice would have to be served on Aer Lingus before it could commence.
This means any possible flight disruption would not occur until the second half of August at the earliest.
Initially, Aer Lingus cabin crew voted to reject the company’s cost-saving plan.
But following a threat by Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller that the airline would make all 1,200 cabin crew redundant and re-employ most on inferior terms and conditions a second ballot saw the plan agreed in March.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved