Talks begin to resolve Aer Lingus dispute

AER LINGUS management and cabin crew meet under the mediation of IBEC and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions today for talks which could finally draw an end to the rostering dispute which has seen dozens of flights grounded.

The invitation to the discussions was issued by David Begg, ICTU general secretary and Aer Lingus Board member, and Brendan McGinty, IBEC director of human resources.

In a joint statement the two men said that “in view of the serious nature of the dispute, ICTU and IBEC have invited the national secretary of (cabin crew union) IMPACT and the chief human resources officer of the company to brief them on the issue with a view to seeing if any assistance can be offered towards finding a resolution”.

Both IMPACT and the airline were quick to accept the invite, though the airline stressed that passengers could still face disruption in the coming days due to cancelled flights and so should still check the airline website for the status of their flight.

The dispute is over the increase of cabin crews’ block hours to 850 hours. The two sides agreed on the need for an increase, but how it was implemented was the subject of dispute for the last 15 months.

On January 17, the airline pressed ahead with the introduction of new rosters.

Since then at least 215 cabin crew have been removed from the payroll.

Sources close to the dispute have speculated that given the way today’s talks have been brokered, they have been preceded by considerable behind-the-scenes discussions and that the dispute will now move quickly back into mediation of a body like the Labour Relations Commission.

Yesterday 18 flights were cancelled. There will be further cancellations over the weekend.

Labour Affairs minister Dara Calleary welcomed the statement issued by ICTU and IBEC and encouraged both sides to the dispute to work with ICTU and IBEC to find a way forward.

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