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Think of the Children

Children due to go on holidays being used as 'pawns' in Aer Lingus dispute, Taoiseach claims

The Taoiseach urged both sides of the dispute to “get back in a room and sort it out”.

TAOISEACH SIMON HARRIS has said it is “utterly reprehensible” that children are being “used as pawns” in the Aer Lingus industrial dispute and urged both sides to get back around the table and sort the situation out. 

Speaking to reporters this afternoon the Taoiseach said people need to “step back from the brink” in relation to the dispute. 

He said he does not believe there will be much support from “the people and parents of Ireland” for the dispute if existing dispute mechanisms are not used. 

“Parents worked over the course of the year and set aside a few bob to try and take their kids on a family holiday and the idea that passengers, children due to go on their summer holiday would be used as a pawn in an industrial relations dispute that has already been considered by the labor court is utterly reprehensible,” the Taosieach said. 

He said he would “absolutely encourage” people to utilise existing dispute mechanisms.

“I don’t imagine they’re going to get much gratitude and support from the people of Ireland, the parents of Ireland, [who are] trying to pack their bags and bring their kids on holiday [and are now] not sure whether they’re going to be able to go ahead,” the Taoiseach said.

“So get back in a room and sort this out is my very clear position,” he added.

Tánasite Micheál Martin also called for a resolution to be found.

He said there is no question that thousands of workers and families who have saved up for their holidays and are looking forward to them are now facing “acute anxiety over whether there will be flights next week”.

“There is an obligation on all sides to get to the table as quickly as possible to resolve this issue. We know the impact of industrial action of any kind in the context of this dispute will be extremely disruptive. Thousands of people will have their lives disrupted.

“In addition, the domestic economy and jobs will suffer. Many small companies or businesses, including those in retail and hospitality, will suffer if tourists are not facilitated to come to the country because of a dramatic reduction in the number of flights,” said Martin.

“Air connectivity is key to and is the lifeblood of an island nation, and that is why every effort must be made to resolve this,” he added.

Earlier this week, Aer Lingus pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action amid an ongoing pay dispute.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) voted 98.82% in favour of taking industrial action, up to and including full withdrawal of labour.

Aer Lingus pilots who are members of the union are seeking a pay rise of 23.8% over three years, which would be similar to what British Airways – a sister airline of Aer Lingus – awarded pilots in 2019.

Members have rejected a Labour Court recommendation that they should receive a pay increase agreement of 9.25% in the near term.

The IALPA said the 23.8% increase it is seeking is “clearly reasonable and affordable for a profitable company such as Aer Lingus.”

It noted that in 2023, Aer Lingus had a full year operating profit of €225 million.

This was a 400% increase on 2022, when a full year operating profit of €45 million was recorded.

Yesterday, Aer Lingus warned that there will be flight cancellations if the planned industrial action by pilots goes ahead next week.

With reporting from Jane Moore and Christina Finn.

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