Mediation body gives no date for Aer Lingus decision

THE Government has given no indication when its dispute mediation body will adjudicate on the battle between Aer Lingus and its staff which threatens to ground thousands of passengers this Christmas.

The National Implementation Body (NIB) yesterday met with airline management and union representatives over Aer Lingus plans to outsource or make redundant 1,500 staff in a process which will begin on December 1.

SIPTU has served the company with notice of strike action and it can withdraw all 1,700 of its ground crew from service on any day after November 24. If it does, the airline will grind to a halt and up to 20,000 passengers per day will be forced to find alternate ways to reach their destinations.

Yesterday, in separate meetings, the union told the NIB there were alternative methods by which the company could make the €50 million in staff savings and it was prepared to discuss those. However, it is understood the airline said it remained committed to an outsourcing model.

When both sides made their case, the NIB said it would consider the situation and revert to them.

However, according to Gerry McCormack of SIPTU, no indication was given as to when the adjudication would be forthcoming and he expressed fears that, given the company’s timeframe, the result might not come soon enough.

Aer Lingus management confirmed it remained committed to its deadline, but said it would not be making any comment on the talks process.

Meanwhile, employers’ body IBEC has described the situation at Aer Lingus as grave, but said it was clear the airline needs to address its lack of competitiveness.

IBEC director general Turlough O’Sullivan told RTÉ the company’s overall €74m cost-cutting package was the minimum required and the choice was between saving the airline and protecting the maximum number of jobs or the airline’s demise.

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