Aer Lingus and pilots to attend Labour Court ahead of planned industrial action

Aer Lingus and pilots’ representatives are to attend meetings at Ireland’s Labour Court on Tuesday as efforts intensify to avert planned industrial action.

The airline has already cancelled more than 200 flights, affecting 35,000 passengers, ahead of the action by members of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) amid a bitter dispute over pay.

A work-to-rule action will run from Wednesday to Sunday, with an eight-hour strike planned for Saturday.

Pilots are seeking a pay increase of 24%, which they say equates to inflation since the last pay rise in 2019.

Aer Lingus has said it is willing to offer pay increases of 12.5% or above if “improvements in productivity and flexibility” are discussed.

Both Aer Lingus and IALPA confirmed on Monday evening they would attend separate meetings at the Labour Court on Tuesday to provide briefings on the industrial stand-off.

The development was welcomed by Irish premier Simon Harris.

Earlier, Aer Lingus offered to meet the pilots to try to resolve the dispute.

Both sides described that move as “positive” and said they were hopeful that they could meet this week.

The more conciliatory tone came after tense exchanges between Aer Lingus and IALPA in recent days.

Aer Lingus had previously branded the pilots’ industrial action “insidious” and compared it to “blackmail”, while pilots accused the company of threats and “antagonism”.

The airline has said it has notified all passengers affected by the multiple cancellations and accommodated 80% with alternatives such as a refund or rebooking.

On Monday, Taoiseach Mr Harris used a meeting of the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) to voice his concerns about the Aer Lingus dispute.

The LEEF is made up of representatives from the Government, employers and trade unions and is used to facilitate dialogue on economic and employment issues affecting the labour market.

Mr Harris later welcomed the decision of Aer Lingus and unions to separately meet with the Labour Court.

“These meetings provide an opportunity to try to make progress and ensure the travelling public are not further affected by this dispute,” he said.

Ireland’s deputy premier Micheal Martin was asked about the issue as he attended a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday morning.

He said it was “shocking the degree to which the needs of those who travel are, in my view, being ignored in the context of this dispute”.

“There’s only one way to resolve this, it’s through negotiations and getting around the table. It is that simple, by the way,” he said.

“All disputes end and the most effective way that they end is by utilising the industrial relations machinery that we have available in the State, which is the WRC (Workplace Relations Commission) and the Labour Court.”

He said the Labour Court’s interim recommendation of a 9.5% increase in pay “does form the basis for further negotiations”.

“I would appeal to both sides to get around the table.”