Aer Lingus warns pilots it could pursue them for losses if any ‘unofficial’ industrial action ahead of work to rule

Aer Lingus warned pilots at the weekend that they could be held personally liable for any losses to the airline if they fail to work their rosters before they begin industrial action on Wednesday.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) in Aer Lingus will begin working to rule on June 26th and plan an eight-hour strike next Saturday, June 29th, from 5am to 1pm.

Both moves are in pursuit of a 23.88 per cent pay rise that Ialpa maintains will compensate pilots for inflation since 2019 and have prompted the management to cancel more than 240 flights next week.

A letter from Adrian Dunne, the carrier’s chief operations officer, to pilots says the company expects them to work their live rosters, including any requested changes, up to 12:01am on Wednesday when their industrial action begins.

He adds that the company will regard any pilot who does not do so as taking part in unofficial industrial action and warns that “individuals who participate in this kind of behaviour may be held personally liable for any losses arising”.

Irish law allows workers to strike or take any industrial action only after they have followed procedures that include voting for the proposal in a secret ballot and notifying their employers at least seven days in advance.

Any action outside those rules is dubbed “unofficial” and companies can hold unions or individual workers liable for any losses sustained as a result.

From next Wednesday morning, pilots will refuse to work outside their hours or comply with changes to their rosters, removing all flexibility and hindering Aer Lingus’s operations at its busiest time of year.

The airline’s cancellations are meant to combat this by preserving as many flights as possible and cutting the risk of last-minute disruptions.

Mr Dunne also tells pilots that the company is seeking medical certs from “day one” of any sick leave they take.

Pilot illness has become a flashpoint between the sides, with Aer Lingus blaming it for 56 cancellations since the start of the year and suggesting that it is actually unofficial action.

Ialpa has strongly rejected this, arguing that the airline does not have enough pilots to operate its schedule.

Aer Lingus will remove staff flying privileges from pilots and their relatives while the industrial action is under way.

Captain Mark Tighe, Ialpa president, this week said the airline was engaged in a “campaign of antagonism” against pilots, issuing legal and other threats.

He argued that the union was seeking a reasonable pay increase in light of cost of living increases and salaries paid by other European airlines.

Aer Lingus said it wrote to pilots on Friday outlining measures “in order to protect the interests of customers during the course of the industrial action commencing on June 26th” and next Saturday’s strike.

The airline is offering passengers who have booked between June 26th and July 2nd the option of cancelling flights and getting refunds or altering their journey free of charge.

Aer Lingus Regional flights, operated under franchise by Emerald Airlines, will continue as normal, as will transatlantic flights from Aer Lingus’s Manchester base.


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