Aer Lingus impasse - Towing the line

Fortunately, the 21 aircraft handlers who operate the tow trucks that move aircraft have come to an 11th-hour agreement to bring them in line with their SIPTU colleague.

Late last week they had rejected new work arrangements that Aer Lingus had insisted were vital to a 10-year contract with SR Technics.

The impasse put the jobs of about 1,200 workers at the company in jeopardy. Aer Lingus had set today as the deadline for the signing of a new contract. Without the contract, management of SR Technics warned the company’s viability would be uncertain.

The agreed terms had been accepted on behalf of all but the 21 aircraft handlers.

Their differences were resolved in less than an hour of further negotiations, which raises questions about why this could not have been done last Friday without engaging in a brinksmanship that amounted to gambling with the jobs of 1,200 people.

There should be no grounds for any suspicions that a relative handful of workers, the union, or management were engaging in reckless brinksmanship. Sooner or later such conduct could lead to industrial disaster.

In this instance the biggest losers would have been the majority of workers who agreed with the settlement terms, but ultimately everyone would have lost out — workers, management, and taxpayers.

While there can be public relief that a settlement was achieved in this instance, the manner in which the whole thing was dragged out should, in the general interest, be deplored rather than celebrated.


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