Airports strike on despite peace bid

Siptu has warned strikes which will ground thousands of passengers at the country’s three main airports in the run-up to the St Patrick’s Bank Holiday will, as of now, still go ahead in spite of an intervention in the pensions dispute by the Government, IBEC and ICTU.

Airports strike on despite peace bid

The union is due to meet its committees in Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority today, but does not expect the action to be cancelled until it secures what it wants from the company.

Following talks between the employers’ body, umbrella trade organisation and officials from the Departments of Jobs and Transport, an expert panel has been appointed to try to find a final resolution to the three-year long dispute over the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme.

That pension scheme, which covers thousands of past and present workers at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority, is almost €800 million in deficit.

The trustees of the scheme have proposed that members’ benefits be cut by 20% and the Labour Court has said the two companies should inject money into a new defined benefit scheme, €110m in the case of Aer Lingus and €50m in the case of the DAA.

However Siptu, which represents a large number of Aer Lingus ground crew as well as workers at the DAA, has said the companies should increase their cash injection to cover the deficit in benefits for members. The refusal of the companies to do so has resulted in the threat of the stoppages on March 14.

Other unions at the companies had not, as yet, threatened industrial action.

The expert panel now tasked with finding a resolution includes former IBEC director of industrial relations Brendan McGinty and former president of ICTU Peter McLoone.

They are joined by two financial experts, Laura Gallagher of KPMG and Eugene McMahon of Mazars.

In a joint statement, the Government departments, IBEC and ICTU said it was “noted” that the Labour Court in 2013 recommended a range of measures to address the pension deficit and related matters.

“These were designed to put in place a fair basis for resolving the complex issues involved and arrangements that will safeguard, as far as possible, the interests of current members of the IASS scheme and to provide the optimum level of future pension provision consistent with commercial reality without undermining business viability and putting employment at risk.”

They said a resolution would also need to take into account developments since those separate recommendations in May 2013.

They have been asked to make a preliminary report to the two departments, Ibec and ICTU by the end of the month.

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