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Airline Axes 154 Cabin Crew Jobs

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UP to 154 cabin crew are set to lose their jobs at Aer Lingus in a deal that their union has described as “painful”.

Impact announced it has brokered an agreement with the airline that will mean 94 job losses among cabin crew at Dublin, Cork, and Shannon airports.

An additional 60 jobs will be lost at Shannon Airport — although these workers will be offered some redeployment within the airline.

But the union insisted it had “significantly reduced” the 420 job losses originally envisaged, held on to a “slimmed-down” Shannon base, and ensured Irish crew continue to work on transatlantic routes.

It admitted these gains were at the “cost of new productivity measures, deferred pay increases and some job reductions”.

Coupled with a 7pc reduction in the ground-handling workforce, which has been negotiated between management and SIPTU, the cabin crew redundancies will mean at least 300 job losses at the airline before March next year.

Impact announced it had reached agreement with the airline following prolonged discussions at the Labour Relations Commission yesterday. Talks have been under way over the last two weeks in a bid to find an alternative to management’s plans to shave €50m off its staff costs.

Bases

Management planned to close its Heathrow and Shannon bases and employ US-based crew on flights to New York, Boston and San Francisco.

The airline also planned to outsource its 1,300-strong ground-handling operations — but has agreed an alternative plan with SIPTU,.

It gave unions a deadline of December 1 to reach agreement on alternative plans before it would plough ahead with its original plan.

The job losses are a central feature of management’s decision to reduce its costs by a total of €74m after suffering €20m losses this year, with further losses expected in 2009.

Impact said the 94 redundancies across the airline’s bases will be achieved through a voluntary redundancy programme, while the 60 job cuts at Shannon will be through voluntary redundancy and redeployment.

Impact official Christina Carney said: “This is a tough package for our members to accept, but we are recommending it because it achieves our main aim of minimising job losses and keeping work in the west of Ireland. If the deal is accepted, we will certainly expect management to remember these sacrifices when the aviation industry picks up, as it will.”

Other elements of the deal include the deferral of pay rises due to staff under the national pay deal until July 2010 and new pay scales for recruits after a five-year period.

The airline could still face a winter of industrial action as there is no guarantee that staff will accept the agreements brokered by the unions.

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