Varadkar calls on Aer Lingus cabin crew to avert strike

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has called on Aer Lingus cabin crew to call off strike action planned for this weekend.

Members of the IMPACT trade union plan to hold a 24-hour work stoppage this Friday, in a dispute with management over rosters.

Minister Varadkar has welcomed IMPACT's willingness to return to talks - but said the strike action should now been called off.

"On the positive side, pretty much everyone now has been rebooked or rescheduled, and all the other airlines will operate as normal so the actual amount of disruption has already been minimised," the minister said.

"But I still think it would be better for everyone at this stage if the strike was called off.

"I very much welcome the fact that IMPACT has accepted an invitation from the company to return to talks (but) ideally I would like to see that strike called off."

The union says it's accepted an invitation to talks aimed at settling the dispute, but has warned that averting a strike is still "unlikely".

"Aer Lingus have ignored the points we've made," said Michael Landers, IMPACT's Assistant General Secretary.

"They've refused to go the Labour Court on the matter six times in the last three years.

"When Aer Lingus ignores the normal industrial relations processes which are designed to solve things peacefully, they can hardly be surprised when they leave us with the only option of resorting to strike action."

Meanwhile, IMPACT'S Niall Shanahan says Aer Lingus has informed passengers booked to travel on Friday to make alternative arrangements.

"The company, about 10 days or two weeks ago, advised their passengers to change their travel arrangements if they had booked on the 30th of May," Mr Shanahan said.

"And that was a very clear indication from the company that it had acknowledged that this action was going to go ahead."

The dispute centres on the rosters being worked by the cabin crew.

IMPACT claims its members can work up to 60 hours in a seven-day period, resulting in shift patterns of six working days and one rest day, followed by six more working days. It wants a roster similar to that for pilots at the airline, of five work days followed by three rest days.

However, airline management says it has analysed staff rosters for the past 12 months and found the average working week for cabin crew was 30 hours, and any incidence of staff working greater than 50 hours in a seven-day period was less than 0.5%.

It has also said “on no occasion” had crew had to work six days on, one day off and six days on again.

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