Tensions are mounting at Aer Lingus with longstanding issues around cabin-crew rostering.
Workers’ union, Impact, sent out ballot papers for ‘industrial action up to strike’, but has now parked that, while the sides go into mediation at an internal Industrial Disputes Resolution Board (IDRB).
One of the primary issues is the staffing of the larger, A330 transatlantic flights and the use of more cabin-crew members, and fewer cabin-crew seniors, than agreed.
The union has said that is deliberate by Aer Lingus management to avoid promotion of its members.
Those promotions could be worth up to €6,000 for some staff.
But with 300 new crew members taken on in the last year, the company has been paying crew members allowances to act as seniors, while the senior positions are still to be filled.
A further issue is what the union describes as “extremely aggressive” rostering policies. Crews are rostered almost right up to the legal limits. Impact says a 5-on, 3-off roster would resolve many of the schedule problems and an internal IDRB recommendation, in 2016, would have advanced that.
However, it says the company is dragging its feet.
An Aer Lingus spokesman said: “We have not received notification of any planned industrial action and do not anticipate disruption to our schedule.”
This is the first public sign of any industrial unrest at Aer Lingus since it was taken over by IAG, owners of British Airways, in 2015.
The company and its unions are in the midst of a process in the Labour Court around pay. It is understood the court asked the unions to desist from any industrial action until that process is complete.
That means that if cabin crew were to revert to the ballot for industrial action, it would not take place until after the summer, at the earliest, given that the Labour Court process will only resume in July and would likely take at least a couple of months, by the time recommendations are issued and ballots completed.
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