By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The prospect of massive disruption for air travelers as a result of three more one-day strikes by Aer Lingus cabin crew hangs in the balance as talks continue in the Labor Court.
After their second one-day stoppage, on Feb. 7, the IMPACT trade union, representing the majority of cabin crew, said it would again stage a 24-hour stoppage on Friday, Feb. 16, and would escalate the dispute to two one-day stoppages next week.
The cabin crew stoppages have led to the grounding of the whole Aer Lingus fleet and caused chaos for about 20,000 passengers.
However, the National Implementation Body, established when the PPF pay deal was renegotiated last December, intervened in the dispute and asked the union and the airline management to return to the Labor Court.
It was the first time the NIB, which was set up to help maintain industrial peace and stability and minimize strike action, had intervened in a dispute.
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The cabin crew had previously rejected by 98 percent a Labor Court recommendation on new pay and conditions.
The NIB asked the Court to facilitate IMPACT and Aer Lingus in "reaching agreement on as many items as possible in direct discussion and to make a recommendation on those issues on which agreement is not reached."
Both parties were asked to "refrain from public comment" pending resolution of the dispute.
The body also asked the employer and trade union "umbrella" bodies, IBEC and ICTU, to assist in the negotiations.
The cabin crew row is just one of a number of industrial disputes hitting Aer Lingus as it prepares to attract investors for a proposed floatation planned by the government.