By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Fears for the crucial Aer Lingus survival plan have been raised after pilots overwhelmingly rejected new work practice proposals and rosters hammered out after lengthy negotiations.
The pilots voted by 635 to 3 against the suggested work practices but accepted a plan to reduce pilot numbers by 310 votes to 60.
In a statement following the ballot, the airline said that implementation of the actions in the survival plan relating to pilots is under way and no further talks are planned.
A spokesman said there had been an “exhaustive process” of negotiations involving the Labor Relations Commission last year, lengthy direct discussions and two separate arbitration reports published last month.
“We accepted the outcome of the arbitration process,” the spokesman said. “We consider the process at an end and it is time to move ahead.”
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Michael Landers of the IMPACT union that represents the pilots said there was “anything but a done deal” as it had been rejected by more than 99 percent in the ballot.
He said what the pilots had already agreed to has saved the airline euro 15 million but the company now wants to “totally strip away all the collective agreements” on conditions of employment that had been entered into over the years.
“That is a just a little bit too far,” he said. “It is a little bit unreasonable. The result of the ballot shows that that is totally and utterly unacceptable to our members.”
The pilots represent the top-paid category of employees and the stand-off between them and the airline is being watched closely by other unions. They might also seek a revision of agreements for their workers if any aspect of the pilots’ deal is set aside.