Aer Lingus passengers face disruption as work to rule announced

Michael Bolton

Aer Lingus pilots are to carry out indefinite work to rule starting Wednesday June 26th.

The notice was served by the pilots union IALPA in the last few minutes.

It's in a row over pay, with pilots looking for a nearly 24 per cent pay rise.

Aer Lingus pilots voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in a dispute over pay, it was announced on Monday.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA), which represents hundreds of pilots at the airline, voted 99 per cent in favour.

IALPA conducted a paper ballot over the weekend after Aer Lingus raised concerns about the integrity of the initial electronic ballot.

President Mark Tighe said the result of the second ballot was “an incredible reaffirmation of our mandate for industrial action in pursuit of a meaningful pay offer”.

He said: “It is unconscionable that an employer would attempt to undermine our members’ democratic and constitutional right to vote for industrial action.”

The airline has described the pilots’ pay demands as unrealistic.

IALPA’s industrial action will involve no working overtime, or any other out of hours duties requested by management; only working the published rosters and not accepting or working any amendments to published rosters; not logging into the Aer Lingus portal or “e-crew” outside of work hours; as well as not answering phone calls outside of work hours.

In a statement, a spokesman for Aer Lingus said: ““IALPA’s decision to serve notice of industrial action by Aer Lingus pilots was entirely unnecessary.

“Aer Lingus will assess the impact of the full detail of the industrial action served by IALPA, including the strict ‘work to rule’ that they have outlined.

“It will inevitably result in significant disruption to our customers and to other employees. Aer Lingus will do everything possible to minimise the disruption to customers, but unfortunately a significant level of disruption is inevitable.

“In advance of being served with the notice, Aer Lingus wrote to IALPA informing them that industrial action at this time of year would cause very significant disruption and have a devastating impact on customers and their families going into the summer holiday season.

“In that context, Aer Lingus asked IALPA that advance notice of at least 15 days be provided.

“Such a level of notice which has been a norm where industrial action has been taken internationally in other airlines, would provide Aer Lingus with more opportunity to try to make alternative arrangements for a greater number of customers.

“IALPA declined Aer Lingus’ request to give advance notice of at least 15 days.”

The likelihood of industrial action at the airline has been growing since last month, when pilots rejected a Labour Court deal that included 9.25 per cent in pay rises.

The dispute has been building since early this year, when pilots turned down an 8.5 per cent boost offered by an internal company pay tribunal.

Efforts to resolve the row at both the Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court subsequently failed.