Aer Lingus passengers face travel chaos after hundreds of staff voted to strike over the airline’s multimillion-euro cost-cutting plans, it was revealed tonight.
Members of the Siptu union at the carrier’s Dublin, Cork and Shannon bases voted 80% in favour of industrial action if management press ahead with controversial plans to cut and outsource 1,500 jobs.
Travellers flying in the coming weeks and in the run-up to Christmas could by the first hit by the escalating dispute.
Siptu national industrial secretary Gerry McCormack said the union regretted the disruption to the public which will almost certainly begin before December 1.
“I want to stress that we remain open to enter a talks process to resolve this dispute with management,” he said.
“We will now be serving notice of industrial action immediately.
“We call on management to avert mass disruption to the travelling public by entering talks with us now.”
Aer Lingus wants to implement a €74m cost-cutting package, which includes taking €50m from staffing costs.
Measures proposed include outsourcing ground operations, shutting cabin crew bases in Shannon and Heathrow, and using American crews on some transatlantic routes.
Talks at the Labour Relations Commission collapsed in recent weeks, with each side blaming the other.
Siptu said its members also voted by 89% for limited industrial action against the plans, and by 97% to invoke legislation on collective redundancies invoked after the Irish Ferries.
Yesterday Aer Lingus revealed it has set December 15 as the deadline for acceptance of a severance package and early retirement scheme on offer to staff.
In a webcam to employees, Aer Lingus chief executive Dermot Mannion also said the cost-cutting plans were unstoppable and irreversible as the company’s financial position had deteriorated significantly over recent months.