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Aer Lingus fuels the fire of union wrath

Aer Lingus has today announced plans to lay off 1,200 full and part-time cabin crew staff and rehire them on new contracts which will offer less pay, longer hours and potentially impact upon their long-term pension entitlements. This is the latest in a move by the company to rein in costs and save around €97 million a year to bring the company back into line and ensure its very existence in the long term.

The company has been undergoing a review of costs and staffing levels for some time and there is some concern that those members of staff and unions who voted against the cost savings may well be treated differently from those who voted in favour. Around 230 cabin crew who rejected the cost saving programme will be made redundant on statutory redundancy terms although a further 440 staff who voted in favour of the cost-cutting programme are set to receive significantly more generous redundancy terms.

The unions are demanding talks with the company although at this moment in time Aer Lingus appears determined to push through his controversial changes with speculation that staff will be rehired via a new holding company set up just before Christmas. This has the potential to cause massive friction between the management, unions and employees but if successful could be replicated by other companies in financial trouble.

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