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Labour Court to review Aer Lingus pay dispute in July as industrial action to begin tomorrow

It comes after the airline cancelled a further 50 flights today due to the ongoing pay row.

THE LABOUR COURT has told Aer Lingus and the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) that it will not be intervening in the ongoing pay dispute at this time. 

It comes as pilots are set to begin industrial action from tomorrow until Sunday, with an all-out strike taking place over eight-hours on Saturday.

The court said it would review the matter in July, after both parties attended separate meetings there today.

In a statement this evening, Aer Lingus said: “Aer Lingus is disappointed that following the Labour Court’s separate meetings with Aer Lingus and Forsa / IALPA today, that its assessment is that it is unable to assist in the dispute at this time.

“Aer Lingus has made it clear that it remains available for discussions both directly and through the State’s industrial relations framework,” the statement read.

The airline said it will continue to focus on “minimising the disruption caused to customers by IALPA’s industrial action”. 

It called on the union to “consider the damage that its continued industrial action is inflicting upon passengers, the company and the Irish economy.”

IALPA said in a statement that the planned industrial action will go ahead tomorrow, with instructions to be issued to members at midnight. 

“IALPA wrote to Aer Lingus on the 23rd of June requesting Aer Lingus to schedule talks for both parties to re-commence negotiations. IALPA has not received a response to date,” the statement read.

A spokesperson for the union told The Journal that it believes “it is incumbent now on Aer Lingus to table direct negotiations”. 

“IALPA is available once Aer Lingus sets a time and date for these negotiations,” the spokesperson said.

More flights cancelled

Earlier today, Aer Lingus cancelled a further 50 flights ahead of the planned industrial action.

More than 240 flights had already been cancelled between Wednesday 26 June and Sunday 30 June, impacting around 35,000 passengers. 

This afternoon, another 50 flights have been cancelled for Monday 1 July and Tuesday 2 July.

The airline said the further flight cancellations are a measure to “protect as many services as possible from the impact of IALPA’s continuing industrial action”.

Aer Lingus added that customers scheduled to travel between 26 June and 2 July will continue be given the option to change their flights for free.

They can also cancel their flight and claim a refund or voucher.

The statement added the airline “fully understands the anxiety being experienced by customers” and that it will give customers “as many options as possible, should they wish to change their plans”.

‘Agony and chaos’

This morning, Taoiseach Simon Harris urged Aer Lingus and IALPA to “engage” rather than “put people through agony and chaos”, saying both parties “need to dig deep”.

Harris further remarked that all industrial relations disputes end in engagement and he issued a “challenge” to Aer Lingus and IALPA to “bring that engagement forward, rather than putting people through a prolonged period of agony and chaos and then engaging in the end anyway”. 

The Taoiseach welcomed the fact that both parties would attend the Labour Court, “albeit separately”, but added that both parties “need to dig deep here”.

“There will be very little sympathy and support for anybody who puts the travelling public through utter chaos, who results in families having their summer holidays cancelled, who disrupts the tourism sector in our economy, if they’re not engaging and engaging intensively.” 

‘May be more cancellations to come’

Meanwhile, the head of a representative body for Irish travel agents called for Aer Lingus and IALPA to have “common sense” and to centre passengers in their discussions.

Chief Executive of Irish Travel Agents Association Claire Dunn told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that travel agents welcomed the fact that both parties had returned to the table for talks.

In relation to the disruption to passengers, Dunn said that most passengers who had booked with travel agents have had their flights rebooked.

Aer Lingus’s chief corporate affairs officer Donal Moriarty yesterday said that the airline has “managed to re-accommodate, refund or rebook 80%” of the 35,000 passengers impacted, and that work is ongoing to do the same with the rest.

However, Dunn also said that the full extent of disruption from the strike will not be known until tomorrow.

“The dispute hasn’t actually started yet. So we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Dunn said.

“If an inbound flight is delayed with this work to rule, it may mean that the crew ready to fly out will say ‘No, we’re going to be out of hours so we can’t', so there may be more cancellations to come.

And this business, which the airline has not denied, the people could be left waiting at the gate with their flights cancelled.”

IALPA is 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.”

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.

Speaking yesterday, Aer Lingus’s chief corporate affairs officer Donal Moriarty claimed that IALPA had set a “precondition to refuse to engage in the normal industrial relations process”.

He told Morning Ireland that IALPA “will only discuss the dispute in the context of their 24% pay claim, and a refusal to discuss the very things that could increase their pay beyond what’s already on offer”.

“Aer Lingus is perfectly willing to engage in proposals that would see their pay increase beyond 12.25%, but we have to be able to talk about the things that can do that,” said Moriarty, who added that “IALPA are unwilling to talk about those things”.

With reporting from Jane Moore and Diarmuid Pepper

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