12/05/2008

Aer Lingus Boss's Pay Award Inflames Union

A leading trade union within the transport industry has begun moves towards industrial action in a long-running dispute over pay at Aer Lingus - which has been exacerbated by large rises for senior executives at the airline.

SIPTU members at the national airline have threatened to ballot again for industrial action over the company's refusal to pay wage increases due under the national agreement 'Towards 2016'.

The company's management imposed a pay freeze last October pending agreement on new cost cutting work practice reforms at the airline.

However, two weeks ago, SIPTU's 1,800 members rejected for a second time the package of cost saving measures.

While over 60% of staff voted to accept the changes, three individual sections rejected it, and under SIPTU's custom and practice, the proposals are deemed to have been rejected by the union.

Since then, Aer Lingus management has not responded to the union's rejection of the proposals.

As a result, SIPTU has now written to the company seeking payment of the outstanding wage increases under national and in-house agreements worth an estimated 7.5%.

It is understood the union members have been incensed and outraged by large pay increases for senior management revealed yesterday.

For example, Chief Executive Dermot Mannion received an increase of over 13%, bringing his annual package to over €1.1m - which the union says is unacceptable in light of the pay freeze imposed on them last October.

SIPTU branch organiser Teresa Hannick accused management of wanting union members to embrace widespread change that severely disrupts their family lives in order to generate savings while non-executive board directors are having their standard fees increased from €17,500 a year to €45,000 just to attend meetings.

She said there could be no justification for what she described as self-indulgence by senior management.

She warned that if the union did not get a satisfactory response to today's letter, it would re-ballot members for industrial action.

SIPTU already has a live mandate for industrial action if Aer Lingus moves to implement cost cutting measures without agreement.

(BMcC)

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