By Owen Ryan
SHANNON Airport will remain open on Friday morning, after the High Court granted an injunction preventing SIPTU from going ahead with a planned four-hour work stoppage.
The work stoppage had been due to take place between 5am and 9am and SIPTU had organised it due to an ongoing dispute over a €780 million hole in the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme. It had been set to cause chaos, not just at the Clare airport, but also at Dublin and Cork.
Both the Dublin Airport Authority and Ryanair challenged SIPTU in the High Court and on Wednesday evening, the Court found in their favour. While Shannon was not a party to the case, there was an agreement that the Court’s decision would also stand for the Clare airport.
Aer Lingus was not involved in the High Court case either, but it is understood that its workers who were also due to carry out a similar work stoppage will not now be going ahead with it.
On Wednesday evening SIPTU Pensions Advisor Dermot O’Loughlin warned that the pensions dispute is far from over. “We will be complying fully with the orders of the High Court. However, this does not resolve the pensions dispute. Accordingly, we will be consulting with our legal advisors with a view to developing a strategy to enable us to exercise our right to withdraw labour and take industrial action in the absence of a fair resolution of the pensions issue within a reasonable time.”
A spokesman for the Shannon Airport Authority said it was pleased that the airport will not now be closing and called for all sides to engage to bring about a resolution to the issue. “Shannon Airport welcomes the decision of the High Court today in relation to the planned four-hour work stoppage by SIPTU on Friday. The airport would hope that all parties involved in the dispute will now engage with the expert panel established last week to seek a resolution to the pension issue.
“In the meantime, the airport asks that passengers contact their airlines with regard to flight schedules for this coming Friday morning, with some scheduling alterations having been made by airlines in advance of today’s decision.”
In a statement on Wednesday evening, the DAA said that it had sought the injunction due to the “unwarranted nature of SIPTU’s planned industrial action”.
It also called on the union to work towards seeking a solution. “DAA calls on SIPTU to fully focus on engaging with the Government sponsored Expert Panel, which was established last week to seek a fair and sustainable resolution to broader pension issue, and is due to report its findings within a matter of weeks.”
Robin Kiely of Ryanair welcomed Wednesday’s High Court decision, which he said; “ensures our customers will not have their travel plans disrupted by unwarranted union strike action.”
Ryanair services between Shannon and Liverpool and Stansted were rescheduled and Mr Kiely said the revised times will still apply, to avoid further confusion.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar welcomed news that the strike was off and said that industrial action would be premature given that an expert panel has been appointed to seek a solution. ““I welcome the High Court ruling which should allow the State airports to operate normal services this Friday. I have said on a number of occasions that the strike should have been deferred given that the Expert Panel is currently engaging with all parties involved in the dispute.”