Dispute at Aer Lingus ends

February 5, 2011

Both parties in Aer Lingus dispute have signed up to 'industrial peace'Both parties in Aer Lingus dispute have signed up to ‘industrial peace’

MARTIN WALL Industry Correspondent

The dispute at Aer Lingus over cabin crew rosters, which has caused disruption for thousands of passengers over the last fortnight or so, has ended.

The trade union Impact, which represents the cabin crew, said this morning said that current industrial action is to be suspended and that the company will restore its members to the payroll and normal duties, pending the outcome of a binding arbitration to be carried out by the Labour Relations Commission.

The breakthrough in the dispute followed marathon talks through the night at the LRC.

The union said that virtually all the issues of disagreement had been resolved between the two parties during talks at the LRC but that final arbitration was required to complete the process. This is expected to be completed within days.

It said that both parties had also signed up to ‘industrial peace’ for the duration of the overall cost-saving ‘Greenfield’ agreement at the airline and to resolve any future disputes through normal procedures.

Impact also said that management had also agreed to delete from the records of staff recent disciplinary procedures linked to the industrial action from staff records.

“Impact always believed that a negotiated or arbitrated settlement was possible and we are almost there,” said a union spokesman.

“We want to see cabin crew quickly back on the payroll and working, and we look forward to the final arbitration outcome in the next few days.

“This has been a difficult time for cabin crew, who have found themselves off the payroll and in disciplinary procedures despite reporting for work and showing their willingness to keep aircraft flying. But they have shown great determination.

“This and the support of their union, their families, their colleagues and others means we are now close to a satisfactory outcome.”

The union maintained that the controversial rosters could change working times by three hours on the day of duty, making it impossible to plan childcare; the introduction of “double” shifts; and the removal of meal breaks from European flights.

Michael Grealy, director of human resources at Aer Lingus, confirmed that staff would begin to return to the payroll with immediate effect.

He advised passengers to check the website for details while flights were returning to normal.

Mr Grealy said that, while Impact agreed that members would work the 850 hours rosters, Aer Lingus had approved a number of quality-of- life issues surrounding meal breaks, rest periods and time off.

“For our part we’ve got on our rosters our 850 hours, and I think Impact will be able to point to the fact they’ve managed to secure a lot of concessions from Aer Lingus in respect of quality of work life issues,” he told RTÉ radio.

In a statement released this afternoon the company said it welcomed an end to the dispute.

The company apologised to its customers for disruption caused and said it will now “be directing all efforts” to restore the full flight schedule.

“This may take a number of days and we will be in touch directly with our passengers through email and SMS should there any changes to flight times,” the statement added.

Labour’s Joe Costello welcomed the breakthrough saying a prolonged dispute could have had “damaging effects” on the entire aviation and tourist sector.

Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien also commended both sides on reaching an agreement while Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney welcomed the “new optimism” coming from both sides.

Go to article in IrishTimes.com

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