30/07/2010

Strike Looms For Aer Lingus Cabin Crew

Unions for cabin crew at the Republic's State-owned carrier Aer Lingus are to ballot members on whether to take possible strike action over an ongoing dispute.

Staff and management have clashed over revised working hours, with the union claiming that the company had sought to breach a previous agreement for an increase in working time by cabin crew.

A spokesperson for the Impact union, who are representing the cabin crew, said they believed the original 850 hours flight time target increase was achievable within the terms of existing agreements and the contracts of employment of cabin crew.

"We see no reason for the company to breach those contracts and agreements in order to achieve this. However, the airline has proceeded unilaterally to force changes to cabin crew workers' terms and conditions of employment," Impact official Christina Carney said.

Yesterday the union issued ballot papers to members of its cabin crew branch, giving them until Monday 9 August to decide on industrial action, up to and including strike action.
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Speaking this morning, Ms Carney added: "IMPACT has always committed to honour its side of agreements including the working of 850 block hours.

"However enough is enough and we are balloting now to commence a work to rule within contract and for withdrawal of flexibility."

In a letter accompanying the ballot paper Ms Carney told members: "We regret to have to consider the taking of industrial action, but the company's behaviour has left us with no choice.

"The purpose of the action is to protect cabin crew contracts and to ensure that the contracts are honoured and agreements are upheld. Cabin crew have a right to come to work each day as required and to expect that their duty hours, and conditions of employment are as they have agreed and as stipulated in their contract."

A spokesperson for Aer Lingus said that 93% of cabin crew had already voted in favour of changes under its cost saving plan and that the company had a mandate to proceed with these changes.

If its members vote for action, Impact would have to give Aer Lingus a week's notice beforehand, meaning that passengers could face travel disruption from mid-August.

Aer Lingus operates a major 'hub' from Belfast International Airport as well as flying from its Dublin headquarters, Cork, Knock and Shannon.

(DW/BMcC)

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