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Further cancellations are expected tomorrow morning. Alamy Stock Photo

Pilots' union recommend members accept Labour Court 17.75% pay increase recommendation

The union has also immediately suspended its ongoing work-to-rule action.

THE PRESIDENT OF the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) has said that the Labour Court recommendation to increase their pay by 17.75% will leave pilots “better off” if they accept it. 

Mark Tighe said pilots did not agree to any changes in their working conditions during the dispute with Aer Lingus, and said that management could have reached a deal with pilots “a long time ago”. 

Last night, IALPA recommended its members accept the Labour Court recommendation to increase their pay by 17.75%.

The union has also immediately suspended its ongoing work-to-rule action, which has been taking place since 26 June after negotiations over a pay increase with the airline reached an impasse.

The choice will now be put to its members through an electronic ballot, which will open on Friday, 19 July and continue until Tuesday, 23 July.

If agreed, the pay deal would cover a four-year period from 1 January 2023 to the end of 2026.

IALPA’s industrial action has resulted in the cancellation of over 500 Aer Lingus flights, with more expected to be announced today.

The Labour Court intervened last week once IALPA threatened further industrial action would be taken. On Monday, it recommended a 17.75% pay increase for pilots.

After a review of the decision, Aer Lingus decided to accept the recommendation on Monday

In a statement, a spokesperson for Aer Lingus said: “Aer Lingus welcomes Forsa’s/IALPA’s recommendation of acceptance of the Labour Court recommendation and its decision to discontinue the industrial action.

“We look forward to IALPA completing the balloting process as soon as possible.”

Could have reached this point ‘long time ago’

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, IALPA president Mark Tighe said that it is a win for pilots.

“While it’s not quite the inflation that we were discussing, we’re looking at two years from now, pilots will be 19.2% better off than they were, which is some ways towards inflation,” he said. 

“We’re recommending it because we believe it’s a deal that the pilots can hopefully accept and we’ll move on. We’ve had a very successful time as a group of people, demonstrating our unity and strength together, and that’s vitally important moving forward.”

Tighe said the group did not give away any work and conditions during the dispute. He said pilots will be meetings across next week where they can bring questions about the recommendation.

Asked if he regretted the inconvenience caused to passengers who had flights cancelled, he said: “I most certainly did not want any inconvenience towards our passengers, I’ve said repeatedly how important they are to us as pilots.

But unfortunately, management could have come to this point a long time ago, and the question should be really directed towards them.

“The question of inflation and employees being left behind while companies profits continue to increase is an important one that will have to be discussed further by everybody in this country.”

‘Positive development’

Taoiseach Simon Harris also welcomed the move. “This is a very positive development for the travelling public and our tourism sector. I have consistently stated that compromise and engagement was the only forward,” he said.

Earlier, Aer Lingus cancelled a further 25 flights as a result of ongoing industrial action by pilots’ union IALPA.

The airline added that it expects to announce more cancellations this morning.

IALPA was seeking a pay increase of 23.8% over three years, which it says is “clearly reasonable and affordable for a profitable company such as Aer Lingus”.

The IALPA executive met on Tuesday and yesterday evening to consider the proposal.

Customers impacted by cancelled flights will be given the option to change their flights for free, and will also be able to claim a refund or voucher.

These options will be communicated directly to impacted customers, as well as travel agents, while the Aer Lingus ‘Travel Advisory’ page will also have information on all the options and information on flight cancellations. 

A spokesperson for the airline said Aer Lingus “fully understands the anxiety being experienced by customers given the uncertainty caused by IALPA’s industrial action and is giving impacted customers as many options as possible”.

Includes reporting by Jane Moore and Muiris O’Cearbhaill

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