Aer Lingus proposes pay cuts and work practice reforms
Aer Lingus has proposed a programme of pay cuts and permanent work practice reforms, which includes a staff commitment not to engage in industrial action where grievances arise until February 2022, according to a document seen by RTÉ News.
The document proposes an agreement that would run until February 2022, but unions have this evening insisted that no such agreement has been finalised.
The document states that the parties have worked together to invoke a set of industrial measures in the first instance to support Aer Lingus through the crisis and rebuild it in years to come.
It states: "The parties agree that the traditional approach to negotiation and consultation will be set aside to facilitate this exceptional period."
On continuity of work, the document says: "At a practical level staff will cooperate with the Aer Lingus management's decision making to ensure the smooth running of the operation at all times, even where individual or collective disagreements or grievances arise."
The document outlines work practice changes required for ground operations, maintenance and cabin crew, adding that they are "...the minimum required now in terms of operational change and may need to be revisited should the situation worsen."
The document also states that changes will be implemented in full and at the earliest opportunity, and once implemented "...will last in perpetuity and are irrevocable."
The document acknowledges that if changes are implemented, at an appropriate time in the future the contribution of Aer Lingus employees in delivering these changes will be recognised.
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It notes that when the proposed document expires on 28 February 2022, it is "intended to recognise the contribution of the staff who are party to this understanding."
It says this recognition would be financial in the form of either a once-off payment, or an "appropriate upward revision in pay from that time."
Aer Lingus stresses that the recognition payment will be in the context of the continuation "in perpetuity" of changes implemented during the course of the understanding, and could also depend on the level of operations and financial position of the airline at that point.
Aer Lingus also proposes that "contingent labour" would be used in certain circumstances during peak demand and when work is outside the scope of the Aer Lingus team. However, the airline would undertake not to use contingent labour to do tasks where they have the available skills internally operating to reduced hours.
For the duration of the agreement there will be no pay increases or claims, and pay will generally reflect the amount of work available.
Until August 2020, workers whose hours fall below 50% will have basic pay retained at 50%, but that will subsequently be viewed as an "overpayment".
That overpayment will be recouped by pay being kept at 80% when staff return to full time until it is reimbursed in full.
The document says that Aer Lingus aspires to restore pay and hours at the earliest feasible time that the market and operating conditions allow, adding that this will probably happen on a phased basis.
However, it also says that should the situation materially deteriorate (i.e. a second wave or extended quarantine) then "it will be necessary to re-visit these measures."
A spokesperson for Forsa has said no document was agreed with Aer Lingus management, and engagement between unions and the company is still ongoing.
A SIPTU source described the document as a "draft proposal issued by the company".