Aer Lingus and Ryanair unite in attempt to crush union


In what is clearly a concerted effort to smash their union organisation, over 170 Aer Lingus cabin crew have been ‘removed from the payroll’ by management in a dispute about rostering arrangements.

Notoriously anti-union employer, and minority Aer Lingus shareholder, Michael O’Leary of Ryanair has joined the fray by supplying aircraft and crew to Aer Lingus to scab on the workers who have been put ‘off duty’.

The trade union representing the cabin crew, Impact, has estimated that Aer Lingus management is spending approximately €400,000 a day hiring external aircraft and crew. 

The dispute centres on attempts by management to impose a new rostering arrangement on cabin crew.  The workers have criticised the changes as being anti-family.  Among other things the new rosters would mean are:

  • Duties can be changed by 3 hours on the day of duty. Eg, you could come in to do a 7am flight to be told you are on a different flight departing up to three hours later – and can finish work three hours later than rostered – which makes it impossible to plan and undertake family and other caring responsibilities.
  • Similarly, duties can be changed by up to four hours on the day before the rostered shift.
  • The existing right to request one weekend off duty every eight weeks is abolished.
  • The minimum of 8 rostered days off per month is reduced to 7.
  • Cabin crew can be sent to work away from base for 26 days at a stretch. No such duty has yet been rostered, but there are big fears about how this would work in practice, particularly for those with childcare and other caring responsibilities.
  • All meal breaks are removed from European flights. This means cabin crew can work shifts of up to 11 hours with no meal break.
  • The introduction of ‘double’ shifts, where staff must work on flights out and back from a destination twice in a day. (Eg: Dublin-London-Dublin-London-Dublin. The doubles mean a working day of up to 11 hours – and more if there are delays for any reason.

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These workers should not be left in the limbo-land of being ‘removed from the payroll’.  Neither should their union allow them to individually face the threat of disciplinary action and/or dismissal.

The company’s bullyboy tactics demand a collective response.  The group of unions in Aer Lingus should come together immediately and organise a collective response to defend their fellow workers.

WORDS: Gregor Kerr