DUE to industrial action by Aer Lingus cabin crew, 12 flights to and from Shannon today (Friday) have been cancelled.
These were to New York, Boston, Heathrow and Faro and all customers were offered the option of rescheduling their flights or obtaining a refund.
While an invitation to talks was issued to Impact (the union representing the cabin crew) this week, spokesman Niall Shanahan said, on Wednesday, it had come too late to prevent disruption.
“For certain, the strike will go ahead on Friday. The situation we’re in is that we don’t know when the talks are going to take place, we don’t know what’s on the agenda, other than the company has indicated they want to talk about the rosters issue. We don’t know how fast they can process this and we don’t know to what degree there’s going to be good faith shown in developing a solution to this. With 48 hours to go, it would be unrealistic to expect that anything could be developed to a point where the strike action on Friday could be avoided,” he said.
Mr Shanahan said rostering is the key issue at stake. “Their working hours are governed by EU flight limits and those are the same limits that apply to pilots. What they’re looking to do is to work the same hours but to have the same hours organised differently.”
He said pilots had to fight for a change in their rosters three years ago.
The union is seeking a five-days-on-three-days-off roster but, in a letter to cabin crew workers, Aer Lingus claimed that its introduction would have severe consequences.
It claimed it “would require a complete separation of longhaul and shorthaul flying for cabin crew. This major change would drive large inefficiencies in our operations, significant increases in costs and would necessitate measures to address these increased costs. These measures include the establishment of North American bases to serve transatlantic flights. This would lead to the reduction of Irish-based crew numbers by over 300 and would limit Irish bases to short-haul flying only.”
The letter warned that pilots had had to make concessions for the changes in rosters. “Impact has argued that cabin crew are only seeking the same rosters as pilots. However, you should be aware that the introduction of a fixed-pattern roster for pilots required the pilots to make significant changes and concessions to their agreements at that time. As I outlined above, many of the concessions required to achieve a fixed-roster pattern for cabin crew may be more unpalatable than their current working pattern.”
By Owen Ryan