Union warns Aer Lingus of industrial action at Galway conference

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Fórsa trade union has warned Aer Lingus of possible industrial action at a conference in the Clayton Hotel in Galway this week over the airline’s decision to withdraw from a dispute resolution board.

An emergency motion calling on the union to take action has been tabled for the conference after Aer Lingus decided last month to withdraw from an ‘Internal Disputes Resolution Board’ established in 2016.

Director of Employee Relations and Change Sean Murphy told RTÉ the IDRB was being used to frustrate business change and that it was being bypassed in favor of the Workplace Relations Commission.

Fórsa National Secretary Angela Kirk said earlier this month that the union regards Aer Lingus’ withdrawal as a breach of a collective agreement and that Fórsa may try to enforce it.

“Alterations to a collective agreement require the agreement of the parties and Fórsa does not accept that Aer Lingus can unilaterally alter a collective agreement.

“Fórsa will continue to refer appropriate cases to the IDRB. We reserve the right to take whatever action we deem appropriate to ensure compliance with this collective agreement.”

Speaking at the conference Divisional Chair of Fórsa and Aer Lingus worker Gillian White said that by walking away from the IDRB Aer Lingus was increasing the risk of industrial disputes.

“It’s inevitable that, if this unnecessary and ill-advised act is not reversed, it will be more difficult to conduct productive industrial relations, and deal constructively with the conflicts that inevitably arise in this highly competitive sector.”

Ms. White said that she believed Aer Lingus withdrew because the Board was ruling against them too often.

“We have established a more effective voice for staff in the company and we felt there was more chance that management would actually start to listen.

“But they have walked away, in view because they were not getting their way on every single issue.”

The conference runs this Thursday and Friday at the Clayton Hotel, Galway.

Fórsa’s Services and Enterprises Division represents approximately 6,000 workers at non-commercial, semi-state companies such as Dublin Airport Authority and An Post as well as commercial companies in aviation and telecommunications.