herald

Monday 18 December 2017

1,100 Aer Lingus jobs at risk as cuts plan rejected

FEAR: Cabin crew vote down €97m rescue despite redundancies threat

THE future of 1,100 jobs at Aer Lingus is at risk after cabin crew rejected a €97m cost-cutting rescue plan for the troubled airline.

The margin was 64pc against, with 36pc in favour despite a recommendation for acceptance by Impact union officials. There was a 100pc turnout.

Last week, management at Aer Lingus warned that if the deal was rejected, it would institute up to 1,100 compulsory redundancies and scale back services.

Airline chief executive Christoph Mueller must now decide whether to act on his threat to impose massive job losses if there is no agreement with unions.

Pilots and middle management have accepted the cost-reduction programme.

All eyes will now be on Siptu, which represents ground handling staff and is due to release its ballot results tomorrow.

Unite, representing maintenance staff, will do likewise on Monday.

Even if members of these final two unions back the cost-cutting plan, it is said to be unlikely that the airline can proceed based on only partial acceptance from the workforce of more than 3,000 people.

Sources at the airline were quoted as saying the agreement needed a majority vote in favour by each group of workers.

In a statement, Aer Lingus said it now had the results of three of its five staff ballots.

"While the Pilots (IALPA) and Middle Management (IAESA) have voted in favour of the proposals, the Cabin Crew (Impact) has rejected them."

"The remaining two ballots (Ground Operations/Support areas and Maintenance Department) are ongoing and results are expected on Monday.

"Aer Lingus will comment on the outcome of the ballots when all the results are known," it said.

The airline has not said what it would do in the event of the deal being accepted by some groups and rejected by others.

The deal to save the airline had been hammered out after months of negotiations and was brokered at the Labour Relations Commission before Christmas. It would have meant around 600 voluntary redundancies, pay cuts of up to 10pc and a three-year pay freeze.

But Impact union officials said it had been a hard deal for workers to swallow -- and criticised management for threatening even harsher cuts if it was not accepted.

Sources said the threat of compulsory redundancies had initially been made on the eve of the talks last November, before being repeated by management recently when it briefed selected journalists.

It said the proposals were "extremely unpalatable" to many members as they were tabled less than a year after cabin crew agreed to cost-saving measures valued at €15m.

mlavery@herald.ie

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