Cabin crew at Aer Lingus have rejected proposed changes to their pay and terms and conditions as part of a COVID-19 rescue package that aimed to save jobs but could have left staffers in significant debt. Aer Lingus has already withdrawn the proposal, claiming the one week delay for cabin crew to take part in the vote had jeopardised any hope of it working. Instead, the Irish flag carrier may now lay-off 500 employees.
According to the Fórsa union, 75 per cent of cabin crew who took part in the ballot voted against the proposals. The union claimed Aer Lingus “had done everything in its power to antagonise its staff over the last ten days,” saying the airline should “be ashamed of itself”
Under the proposals, cabin crew would only have been paid for the hours they worked. With the aviation industry severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and travel demand almost non-existent, cabin crew would be working a lot fewer hours than normal. If working hours fell below 50 per cent, Aer Lingus would make up for the shortfall in wages to the half-way mark and that top-up would become debt that cabin crew would need to pay back.
But now, Aer Lingus says 500 jobs could be at risk because of the continuing effects of the Corona crisis. The airline notified the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection last week of the potential job losses, claiming the “catastrophic” effect of the COVID-19 had been exacerbated by a 14-day quarantine on new arrivals.
With job cuts looming, the airline has already slashed the pay of cabin crew in Dublin and Cork to just 30 per cent of pre-COVID levels. Crew based in Shannon will be temporarily laid off until at least the end of August. Aer Lingus will also now make permanent changes to terms and conditions.
“Cabin crew and all the company’s employees understand the difficulties that Aer Lingus and the entire aviation industry is going through. They want to play their part in helping the airline through this period, but they are being treated with disdain by their management,” the Fórsa union blasted on Monday.
“It has agreed far superior proposals for its better-paid staff. And, in its impatience, it has announced 500 redundancies and imposed a further pay cut, which means the taxpayer is now footing most or all of its pay bill,” explained a union spokesperson.
Fórsa has called for further engagement with the airline to avert potential job losses.
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.