herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Aer Lingus strike action a 'last resort'

CUTS: Union happy with voluntary deal

Aer Lingus trade union members said they will only strike as a last resort, following the news that 230 cabin crew face the axe.

The workers' jobs are under threat after cabin crew refused to back a survival plan for the airline.

Cost-cutting measures now planned will see more than 400 people asked to take voluntary redundancies, pay-cuts of up to 10pc and a three-year wage freeze in an attempt to cut €74m from staff costs.

Christina Connolly of the Impact trade union said this morning that they are confident that there will be no compulsory redundancies and can therefore avoid a strike.

"The first thing we will do is meet the company, the second thing we will do is talk to our members and then we'll assess the situation. As far as we're concerned, it's always better to try and reach an agreement" Ms Connolly said.

"We will ensure that we save as many jobs as we can, that there are no compulsory redundancies and reach a negotiated settlement.

"It's going to be extremely difficult and we won't shy away from that. We know that the company has to proceed with its cost-cutting plans," she said.

The announcement of job losses is significantly less severe than Aer Lingus boss, Christoph Mueller's original plans to cut 1,100 jobs without union agreement.

But he said he did not act on this threat as it would be unfair to penalise staff who had accepted the proposals.

He explained that the majority of workers backed the cost-cutting plan and he would single out the only one of the five staff groups to reject the deal.

Mr Mueller said there would be no 'sweetheart deal' with cabin crew who rejected cost-cutting plans and he revealed that the board would be imposing compulsory redundancies on the Impact trade union members.

However, the union official hit back saying that they never sought special treatment from the airline and are prepared for lengthy negotiations.

"I think it puts all of us in a difficult position because one thing is absolutely clear. The company has to survive, and we have to find a way of reaching a negotiated solution," she said.

"I want to say one thing very clearly however -- the company has suggested that we're seeking some sort of 'sweetheart deal'. I don't even know what a 'sweetheart deal' is.

"We've never got any special treatment from Aer Lingus and we don't expect it," she added.

cmcbride@herald.ie

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