Aer Lingus and airport staff threaten strike over pension scheme changes

Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport Authority staff have voted in favour of strike action if their employers make changes to their pension scheme without their agreement.

Six unions balloted 4,500 members including ground and cabin crew, and Dublin Airport Authority employees, over the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme.

That scheme has a deficit of almost €750m and there has been fears over its ability to pay out as the shortfall has mounted.

There were talks in the Labour Relations Commission earlier this year which considered strategies to reduce the deficit including paying additional contributions, cutting the benefits of current workers and those with deferred pensions.

Yesterday, Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ industrial officer Liam Berney said: “The result of this ballot should send a clear message to both companies that staff are determined to secure their pension entitlements and are prepared to act to ensure this is the case. It is now up to both companies to come forward with proposals that meet the expectations of members.

“The unions are available for meaningful negotiations. However, the time has come for the companies to put forward realistic proposals that are capable of being given serious consideration,” he added.

Mr Berney said the travelling public would not be immediately affected, unless the companies act first. But he warned that unions wanted a speedy response from management.

“The window of opportunity is about two to four weeks,” he said. “If we haven’t heard from the employers as to what they are prepared to do, I suppose we would have to consider the position then.”

Aer Lingus said it “remains committed to working with all the relevant parties to find a solution to the shortfall” and said it did not anticipate any disruption to services at this time.

Dublin Airport Authority said it did not believe there were any grounds for industrial action as the parties were engaged in a process under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, which is expected to resume next month.

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