Unions representing staff at Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus claim the airline has laid out plans to “unilaterally lay off staff and to reduce hours and pay” for the vast majority of its 4,500 strong workforce from June 21. The layoffs will be made immediately following the end of a government-backed wage support scheme set up to help employers retain staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FORSA union called the decision “premature” and urged the airline to use the next month to negotiate alternatives including making use of “unprecedented support” being offered by the Irish government. Aer Lingus is part of the European airline conglomerate International Airlines Group (IAG) which includes British Airways where 12,000 staff face being laid off by June 15.
Aer Lingus plans to axe around 900 jobs – approximately 20 per cent of the airline’s workforce. In an internal memo, the carrier said employees who get to keep their job will also face pay cuts. An agreement between Aer Lingus and unions on the proposed cuts has not yet been reached.
“The effect of Covid-19 is not just an issue for Aer Lingus and its staff. It’s the most significant crisis for the entire Irish aviation industry in a generation, with the potential to adversely affect the commercial connectivity of the country,” commented FORSA union official Angela Kirk.
“To act unilaterally now, and to abandon the efforts to negotiate a solution to the current crisis, and plan for a future recovery, is to squander the time remaining to negotiate real solutions,” she continued.
“Nobody is pretending it will be easy, but to shut the door on discussions with a month of state-subsidised support still to go, is not the way to solve the enormous challenges faced by the industry.”
Aer Lingus simply confirmed that it would continue to try to communicate directly with cabin crew and other staff.
On Monday, the Dublin-based airline said it would make the wearing of face masks by passenger and crew mandatory on all of its flights. The “temporary” measure will be enforced until at least August 31. The vast majority of Aer Lingus’ flights remain suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.