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File photo of Aer Lingus planes.
Industrial Action

Aer Lingus pilots vote overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in dispute over pay

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

AER LINGUS PILOTS have 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. Turnout for the ballot was 89%.

IALPA members had already voted in favour of taking industrial action last week, securing 98% support.

However, Aer Lingus questioned the legitimacy of the vote, which was conducted electronically.

In-person voting was open in two polling stations – one in Dublin and one in Cork – from Friday until 11am this morning.

In a statement issued this afternoon, IALPA president Captain 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”.

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

“The effect of Aer Lingus management’s intervention last week has served only to further antagonise pilots. They are now more determined than ever. This ballot has reaffirmed the commitment of our members to stand up to management.”

He added: “IALPA is now consulting with our colleagues in Fórsa to determine our next steps.”

Noting the outcome of the ballot, a spokesperson for Aer Lingus told The Journal that any decision by IALPA to serve notice of industrial action “would be entirely unnecessary and would result in significant disruption to the airline’s customers and to other employees”. 

“IALPA have rejected the outcomes of two independent processes which have sought to resolve the issue of pilot pay in Aer Lingus – the Pilot Pay Tribunal Report and the interim recommendation of the Labour Court,” the spokesperson said.

“Following these rejections by IALPA, Aer Lingus has offered to continue to engage in meaningful direct discussions with IALPA and to request the support of the Workplace Relations Commission in order to further explore solutions.

“As of now, both of these offers have been rejected by IALPA.”

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 Airlines – 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.

Tighe said: “Our pay claim of 23.8% is to ensure that pilots’ pay has the same purchasing power as it did in 2019, and reflects the enormous increase in profits enjoyed by Aer Lingus. Last year, they reported €225 million profit – an increase of 400% on the previous year.

“Our colleagues in British Airways secured a 24% increase in 2019, while Lufthansa pilots received a 27% increase,” he said.

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