The Six Nations rugby tournament and people returning to Ireland for St Patrick’s Day are likely to be targeted in strikes at Aer Lingus.
Ground crew at the airline, as well as staff at the Dublin Airport Authority, are to be balloted over the next two weeks for “very significant industrial episodes at Ireland’s international airports”, according to their union, Siptu.
It is also likely Aer Lingus cabin crew members will be balloted for action by their union Impact.
The strikes have been hastened by ongoing failure to reach agreement on how to address the almost €800m deficit in the pension scheme of workers in both companies, the Irish Airlines (General Employees) Superannuation Scheme.
Siptu organiser Dermot O’Loughlin said: “There is extreme anger now among the employees of Aer Lingus, DAA and the Shannon Airport Authority that after three years of an industrial relations process, the pensions crisis, if anything, has worsened at a time when financial market conditions are improving.”
The union has also called for the three current trustees of the scheme and their advisers to resign immediately.
The announcement of strike action followed a meeting of Siptu members in both companies on Wednesday evening.
“The membership has said that it can neither afford, nor tolerate, hard- earned money going into a scheme from which they may never see any value in the future,” said Mr O’Loughlin.
“At this juncture, we are calling on Aer Lingus, DAA, and the Shannon Airport Authority to set aside priority time for intensive meaningful discussions to once and for all resolve this pensions debacle. Failure to do so will unfortunately lead to very significant industrial episodes at Ireland’s international airports.”
Impact has told its cabin crew members that feedback from the Pensions Board on an application by the trustees of the scheme is expected shortly.
“At that stage either the employers will come up with new IASS rescue proposals and 2014 pay proposals or this union will have to commence a ballot seeking a mandate for serious industrial action off you the members to force them to go down this route,” Impact national secretary Matt Staunton told the cabin crew in a circular.
“As this is increasingly becoming likely you can expect the commencement of a ballot and being called to Impact information meetings in the near future.”
Aer Lingus management made no comment on the strike threats last night.
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