Aer Lingus strike parties agree to new talks

The threat of strike action at Aer Lingus appears to have been averted.

The threat of strike action at Aer Lingus appears to have been averted.

Unions and management have agreed to enter into two weeks of discussions aimed at finding a resolution to the row over the airline's cost-cutting plans.

In the meantime, the National Implementation Body is asking the union not to take industrial action and the company not to issue revised contracts.

Siptu shop stewards at Aer Lingus will meet tomorrow to discuss the outcome of today's talks.

Both sides met for almost nine hours today under the auspices of the National Implementation Body.

Michael Halpenny, National Industrial Secretary, said: "We are satisfied that sufficient progress has been made in discussions today with the NIB to bring back its proposals to our shop stewards in the morning.

"One of the major causes of concern was the position of contract workers, which is addressed, along with other key issues, in the process being proposed by the NIB."

An Aer Lingus spokeswoman said: "The airline has agreed to enter a time-limited process of intensive engagement, overseen by the NIB to determine how PCI [cost-cutting scheme] will be implemented with all unions."

NIB intervened in the dispute last night and invited both company and union bosses to talks in a bid to avert next week's planned strike action.

It threatens to ground the beleaguered airline on Tuesday and Friday and cause travel chaos to thousands of passengers.

Aer Lingus wants to push through its cost-saving plan which Siptu claims will cut the individual salaries of many staff by €4,000 a year.

The parties will reconvene at Government Buildings on November 28 and the NIB will try to issue settlement proposals by December 3.

An NIB spokesman said: "A number of issues have been raised by the parties in their discussions with the body which it believes should be further explored, especially as regards the practical and procedural implications of proposed new work arrangements and the likely impacts for earnings and cost savings arising from each, so as to deepen its understanding of the scale of the differences between the parties.

"The body would request the parties to desist from taking any actions which might hinder the effectiveness of the above process and requests that no industrial action would be taken over the period in question and no new revised contracts should be issued."

This latest dispute comes just months after a strike by the airline's pilots was called off at the last minute, but still resulted in a devastating loss of bookings for the carrier.

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