TALKS have resumed this week between the Irish public sector trade union Impact and representatives of Aer Lingus over working conditions for cabin crews in an attempt to forestall further damaging industrial action.
Around 200 Aer Lingus flights at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports were affected by a 24 hour strike last Friday.
The strike action was taken by cabin crews in dispute with the airline over work rosters. The strikers are in dispute with the airline over working hours. Pilots did not strike, but are backing the cabin crew in their dispute.
They have informed the airline that there would be a policy of non-co-operation with regards alternative plans in future strikes.
Impact says its members “are being left exhausted” by the current rostering arrangements. They are demanding a “five days on, three days break” time-table. However, the airline says this demand is unworkable.
Meanwhile Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, has slammed the strikers. He told Pat Kenny on Newstalk that the roster idea was not practical, and that cabin crew could not be compared to flying crew.
“They do not do the same job as pilots,” he said. “These strikes are threatened three or four times a year, especially at bank holidays and this is effectively holding the public to ransom.”
Ryanair, the largest shareholder in Aer Lingus, has made three attempts to buy the airline outright.
Further strikes look likely if agreement is not reached in this week’s meetings. The trade union accepted invitations to talks with the representatives of the airline, suspending any decision until after negotiations.
Politicians and business have condemned the strike, pointing out that Ireland is only now beginning to emerge from its economic problems, and strikes by the national airline spell out entirely the wrong message.
The strike is estimated to have cost Aer Lingus up to £8million.
Passengers booked on any of the cancelled flights can apply for a full refund, or transfers to other flights.