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Aer Lingus warns layoffs ‘imminent’ after staff vote against redundancy

AER LINGUS has warned that layoffs are imminent, and told cabin crew that their reduced hours and pay will continue “for the foreseeable future”.

he unilateral action from the company comes after staff voted in a ballot against voluntary redundancies and changes to work practices.

In a letter, seen by Independent.ie, the company said it had “identified a surplus at the CSM (cabin service managers) grade.”

It said it had previously indicated all cabin crew pay and hours would likely move to 80pc before Christmas, but a surplus was then identified.

“To address this surplus, CSMs will not progress to a 80pc working arrangement in line with other crew grades and will instead be retained at 60pc of their underlying contracted hours and pay for the foreseeable future,” the letter said.

A spokesperson for Aer Lingus blamed the damage done to the business by the Covid-19 pandemic when contacted by Indepenent.ie tonight.

The company has said it felt staff had not “understood” the “seriousness” of the effects on the business due to the pandemic.

While staff, and their union Fórsa, said the company’s actions underlined the “widespread view” management is “not listening” to their concerns as they “struggle to pay mortgages, rent and other bills.”

In the letter to staff today, the airline wrote that over the last 18 months, it had “engaged extensively” with cabin crew in “respect of the urgent need for structural and sustainable change” after the “profound effect the pandemic has had on our business.”

It added that the result of the ballot had highlighted “the seriousness of the situation has not been understood” resulting in the airline writing to the Forsa trade union.

Aer Lingus wrote there was an “imminent requirement” to place a number of cabin service managers (CSMs) on “temporary lay off.”

“It is likely that this lay off requirement will continue well into 2022,” it added. “And indeed may increase in number.”

The company said it would write to cabin crew over the coming days, “detailing the position as it relates to them (staff) individually.”

The airline will, it added, “confirm the date on which the lay-off period will commence.”

The letter continued: “There is also a likelihood that there will be a requirement to implement layoffs within other cabin crew grades from early 2022.

“We will write to all affected crew over the coming weeks detailing the position as it relates to them individually.”

The airline notified staff there would be no pay increases for cabin crew until the “start of 2025 at the earliest.”

And from December 1, “all commission generated” on flights “would no longer be pooled and will be distributed on an individual basis.”

The airline notified staff its voluntary severance packages would be ceased “and no further severance offers will be made to individuals under the scheme.”

An Aer Lingus spokesperson said tonight: “Aer Lingus has been advised that Forsa members, employed as cabin crew, have rejected by ballot a company proposal designed to achieve the required cost efficiencies.

“The structural change proposal clearly outlined the serious challenges facing the business and the changes to pay and work practices necessary to deal with the situation.

“The process involved many months of engagement and consultation during which the damaging effects of the pandemic on the airline and its prolonged and ongoing impact were clearly communicated.

“Aer Lingus has now begun the process of communicating to Forsa and cabin crew the measures that the airline will now implement in order to deal with the challenges.”

A Fórsa union spokesperson told Independent.ie: “As you may already be aware, cabin crew at Aer Lingus voted earlier this week to reject restructuring proposals put forward by the airline.

“Those proposals had not been negotiated or agreed with the union.

“The result of the ballot is not a great surprise given that Aer Lingus cabin crew have been on massively reduced earnings and working time for 18 months and that the package put forward by airline management solely consists of further erosions of their terms and conditions.

“The outcome underlines the widespread view among cabin crew that company management is not listening to their concerns at a time when they are struggling to pay mortgages, rent and other bills.

“The Fórsa cabin crew branch is considering its next steps and continues to urge Aer Lingus management to work towards a recovery in the airline industry with – and not against – its staff.”

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