Siptu to learn if Aer Lingus staff are to join DAA in strike action

Siptu will today count the ballot of its members in Aer Lingus to establish whether they, like their colleagues in the Dublin Airport Authority, are prepared to strike over the €800m hole in their pension scheme.

Yesterday, Siptu’s members in Dublin and Cork airports voted 94% in favour of industrial action and 89% in favour of strikes.

The union said the ballot was taken to “bring about an acceptable resolution of the dispute on the pension issue” as staff at the DAA had been unable to get their employer to deal with the gaping deficit in the pension scheme it shares with Aer Lingus workers, the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS).

Siptu’s pension policy adviser Dermot O’Loughlin said his members in DAA were “angry, disillusioned and frustrated” that a resolution had not been found to the crisis in the scheme. He said the union will now consult with its members who are not in IASS as well as other trade unions in the DAA group before proceeding with any industrial action.

He accused the trustees of the pension scheme, the regulatory authority and the DAA of “intransigence and procrastination” and said that had forced members into “a very serious situation”.

In response, DAA said its priority was to achieve a “fair and balanced resolution of the very significant challenges faced by the IASS”. It said it strongly refuted any contention that it has been intransigent. It said finding a resolution to the scheme’s problems was complex and required co-operation and “appropriate compromise” from all stakeholders including trade unions.

It said such a resolution would be best achieved based on last year’s Labour Court recommendation adding that it was fully committed to a new defined contribution scheme for all employees as suggested by that recommendation.

“A key pre-requisite for progress is a decision by the IASS trustee to make their final proposal concerning the IASS for the approval of members and the Pensions Board,” the DAA spokesman said. “This proposal will provide clarity about the pension benefits the IASS can reasonably expect to provide for members’ past service and the information required by employers and unions to discuss how the Labour Court recommendation is best implemented.”

DAA said its belief was that the trustee will be in a position to make a proposal very soon.

“DAA calls on the Trustee to announce their final proposal and on Siptu not to contemplate any industrial action. This would only cause concern and inconvenience for customers and would not bring the desired resolution of the pensions issue any closer,” it said.

Impact trade union, which represents cabin crew and some administrative staff in Aer Lingus as well as a small number of DAA staff, has not balloted its members for industrial action as yet, though it has not ruled out such a ballot taking place.

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