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Start talks, prevent strike, Ireland minister tells Aer Lingus, union

Robert Besser
21 Jun 2024

DUBLIN, Ireland: Minister for Finance Michael McGrath has called on Aer Lingus management and unions to begin negotiations immediately to prevent potential strikes. He emphasized the urgency of discussions to avoid travel disruptions during the summer holiday season.

Aer Lingus pilots, represented by the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA), voted 99 percent in favor of industrial action over a pay dispute. The airline has labeled the pilots' pay demands as unrealistic.

Arriving for a cabinet meeting in Dublin, McGrath stated, "I urge both Aer Lingus management and the union to sit down together as quickly as possible for meaningful discussions to prevent industrial action. We are approaching a crucial period when many individuals and families have their only opportunity to travel for the year. The sooner discussions occur, and a settlement is reached, the better. The last thing anyone wants is passengers being inconvenienced, flights canceled, and plans disrupted."

Tanaiste Micheal Martin echoed this sentiment, saying, "It is very serious for passengers. Thousands of passengers are at risk. I would urge all sides to go to the Labour Relations Commission to resolve this issue."

Donal Moriarty, Aer Lingus' chief corporate affairs officer, accused the union of intending to cause disruption. Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Moriarty said, "If they proceed, it will result in significant disruption for our customers. We are preparing for this and communicating with our customers to outline their options to minimize disruption. However, it will be significant. At this time of year, all airlines are busy, and re-accommodating passengers on other airlines is difficult."

Moriarty added that the 24 percent pay increase sought by IALPA is untenable.

IALPA conducted a paper ballot over the weekend after Aer Lingus raised concerns about the integrity of the initial electronic ballot. President Mark Tighe called the result of the second ballot "an incredible reaffirmation of our mandate for industrial action in pursuit of a meaningful pay offer."

He criticized Aer Lingus for attempting to undermine the democratic right of members to vote for industrial action.

Pilots were able to vote at various polling stations over the weekend.

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