Aer Lingus cabin crew prepare for ballot on pay freeze move

AER Lingus cabin crew will decide next Friday whether to ballot their 1,500 members for industrial action over the airline’s decision to impose a pay freeze across the company.

The union will hold special general meetings with its members in Cork, Shannon, Dublin and Britain where it will discuss three issues: the pay freeze, the potential ballot for industrial action and a recommendation from the Labour Court released yesterday, aimed mainly at the airline’s cabin crew as well as the company’s other 3,200 workers affected by the airline’s €20 million cost cutting document Programme for Continuous Improvement (PCI-07).

That is the second Labour Court recommendation on PCI-07. It said it was concerned the cost savings the court backed in its first direction last March had still not been implemented by the company under agreement with the unions.

“The court would strongly urge the parties now proceed to finalise all outstanding issues with a view to implementing the terms recommended in LCR18850 [the first recommendation] and this recommendation,” it said.

There was good news for unions as the court said that, while the company wants PCI-07 implemented in full before the end of 2007, it believed it should be implemented incrementally and negotiations should be held between the company and unions with the court acting on any resulting issues.

The unions also welcomed the court’s ruling that a new rostering system should be implemented.

IMPACT deputy general secretary Shay Cody said the introduction of that system would mean two of the three concerns his union has about PCI-07 would have been addressed. He said the issue of leave had been addressed by the first court recommendation and the outstanding issue of compensation to the crews could be resolved in consultation with the Labour Court.

Mr Cody said the union was immediately seeking a meeting with the company, to discuss the compensation measures.

“The fact we are so close begs the question: Why has the company imposed this pay freeze?” he said.

Aer Lingus yesterday said it was still considering the ruling and would be making no comment at this stage. However, it is understood they are deeply concerned the court is looking to draw out the implementation of PCI-07 which it feels must be fully operational by the end of 2007 in order for it to make the necessary savings to be competitive.

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