Cabin crew union Impact last night accepted an invite from management to talks on the rosters “without preconditions”.
In a letter to cabin crew, Robert Somers, the firm’s executive for flight operations, said the changes to rosters demanded by Impact were “not reasonable and cannot be delivered without fundamental changes to the way in which you work and your rosters are organised”.
The union has claimed staff are having to work up to 60 hours in a seven-day period, resulting in shift patterns of six working days and one rest day, followed by six more working days, something denied by management. Staff want a roster which is similar to pilots at the airline — five work days followed by three rest days.
Mr Somers, who manages all cabin crew and pilot operations, said establishing a “5:3:5:3” pattern would require a complete separation of long-haul and short- haul flying for cabin crew.
He said that would mean large inefficiencies in its operations and significant increases in costs which would have to be addressed by “measures” — including the establishment of North American bases to service transatlantic flights.
“This would lead to the reduction of Irish-based crew numbers by over 300 and would limit Irish bases to short-haul flying only,” he said in the letter.
Mr Somers also said the changes sought by Impact would require: The removal of individualised part-time patterns; more winter leave; less summer leave; and major reductions in “roster bidding” options.
“Many of the concessions required to achieve a fixed roster pattern for cabin crew may be more palatable to you than your current working pattern,” he said.
Mr Somers said Friday’s 24-hour strike, which has led to the cancellation of 200 flights due to carry 30,000 passengers, had damaged forward bookings for the rest of the year due to the risk of further strikes.
In a separate letter to Michael Landers, assistant general secretary, Impact, inviting the union to talks, Mr Somers said the airline was committed to finding solutions that “address genuine roster issues without adding cost or increased complexity to the business.
Mr Landers accepted the invite “without preconditions”.
Impact said the action, “could have been avoided if the suggestion to trial run the 5:3 roster pattern on Aer Lingus short-haul services had been taken seriously by Aer Lingus”. It called management’s refusal to engage in constructive and meaningful dialogue “self- destructive and corrosive”.