Unions accuse Aer Lingus of sabre-rattling with threat of 1,100 job losses

UNIONS at Aer Lingus have described as “sabre-rattling” the company’s threat of 1,100 job losses at the airline if workers do not accept a €97 million savings programme.

It has also warned the intimidatory behaviour of management could force workers to reject the deal even if they initially intended to accept it.

After four months of protracted negotiations, Aer Lingus and its unions agreed the efficiencies across the airline through its “Greenfield” plan which involves 700 redundancies, pay cuts and pension changes. However, for the last number of weeks there has been no official sign-off on the deal. The unions are balloting their members on the deal, with those ballots due to be completed in the next fortnight.

The airline has once again reverted to a threat of getting rid of almost 1,100 jobs in the event that workers reject the deal.

It was the same tactic employed by the airline when pilots did not sign up to the deal. At that point the airline said it could not afford to delay the roll-out of the plan given the financial hardship in which the company found itself.

Management fear staff are set to reject the proposals in spite of a recommendation by unions to accept.

Therefore, its chief executive Christoph Mueller has told his management to prepare a ‘Plan B’ to secure the required cost savings through compulsory redundancies and a significant fleet reduction.

IMPACT trade union, which represents pilots and cabin crew at Aer Lingus said the move by the company was “reckless and foolish”.

“This is the same comment they made on a couple of occasions on the eve of negotiations,” a spokesman said. “They are being extremely irresponsible. Branch committees of the unions have worked tirelessly to hammer out this agreement. Now the company are waving the big stick.”

He said the unions were balloting staff on whether to accept or reject the deal, but staff have been recommended to accept. He said the company could have no way of predicting the outcome of the vote as it was a secret ballot. “This type of sabre-rattling is foolish and reckless and might provoke the collapse of the ballot. It has the potential to push staff against the company proposals, which is not what we want.”

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