Aer Lingus action called off

AER LINGUS cabin crew have suspended their work-to-rule, due to start this morning, following a last-minute arbitration by the Labour Relations Commission.

IMPACT trade union, which represents the bulk of the airline’s cabin crew, said its members and its officials needed to give detailed consideration to the recommendation by LRC chief Kieran Mulvey.

The recommendation is binding so it would appear unlikely that either management or staff will raise much objection to the contents.

“The detailed findings, which run to 39 pages and reflect the complex technical issues under consideration, deserves and demands close reading and analysis,” an IMPACT spokesman said. “It would be unreasonable to press ahead with industrial action while this happens.”

The dispute between management and cabin crew is over rostering. Earlier this year, cabin crew voted to accept management’s €97m “Greenfield” cost saving plan. A part of that document required that the cabin crew increase their working hours to 850 a year.

However, IMPACT claimed the company then unilaterally imposed massive changes to working arrangements and rosters in order to achieve the total.

The work-to-rule, which would have begun today but for the intervention of the LRC, would not have impacted on flights as it only had a minimal impact in terms of work hours.

However, if the company had reacted by taking action against staff the dispute would have escalated rapidly.

Last night IMPACT said it noted that the LRC finding recommends a revision of existing agreements rather than their abandonment in order to meet the agreed objective of 850 flying hours a year as part of cabin crews’ overall working time.

“This issue was at the root of the current dispute, which was triggered by management’s imposition of changed rosters without agreement,” it said. “In this spirit IMPACT now calls upon Aer Lingus to immediately reverse the harsh and unnecessary changes imposed, without agreement, on cabin crew in recent weeks.”

It is understood that as he acknowledges that creating a formula for achieving the 850 hours is “not an exact science”, Mr Mulvey has told the parties he is allowing both sides the opportunity over the next 12 months of a quarterly review and a 12 month audit to address any “imbalances” which might occur in the implementation of what he has recommended.

Aer Lingus was unavailable for comment on the arbitration last night.

SRogers.direct@examiner.ie

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