11 October 2007 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Aer Lingus suspends pilot

AER LINGUS suspended one of its pilots on Tuesday in the growing row between management and employees over the dispute about pay and conditions in the company’s new Belfast hub.
A spokesman for the IMPACT trade union, which represents Aer Lingus’s 500 pilots, said the employee had been suspended after failing to meet a deadline for helping the airline train new staff for the planned base in Belfast.
Aer Lingus management threatened pilots with suspension for not co-operating with procedures for the recruitment and training of pilots in the new base. According to pilots, management communicated with them by sending a letter in which they stated that senior pilots would be required to facilitate the airline’s plans from Wednesday morning and those who refused to co-operate with these plans would be suspended. In the letter, Aer Lingus chief Dermot Mannion said: “The training of new staff is an integral part of the duties of a significant number of pilots and full co-operation is expected in this regard.”
It has been reported recently that pilots’ union IALPA had instructed its members not to co-operate with the procedures to be put in place for the Belfast base. They want the union to have a role in negotiating terms and conditions for pilots operating from Belfast.
SIPTU has said that the threats issued are equivalent to “blackmail” of the workers. IMPACT added that the threats of suspension are counter-productive and all the unions involved have not ruled out industrial action.

SIPTU concerns on pay talks

SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor told his union’s biennial conference in Tralee last week that social partnership faces the threat of “a new breed of tooth-and-claw capitalist who wants it all, and is not prepared to share anything”.
For them, O’Connor said, social partnership is an impediment, but he warned:
“They may well have their way because SIPTU cannot go on carrying the burden of it on its own. Maybe if they do succeed in collapsing it, they’ll find working people are a bit more resilient than they expected and they won’t like it as much as they expect.”
He said that the issue of legislating for trade union representation and agency talks need to be raised in the context of social partnership and would be critical in the negotiation of the phase of Towards 2016 that expires next year and which should improve the living standards of all while simultaneously strengthening the medium-term competitiveness of the economy.

Classroom assistants strike continues

INDUSTRIAL action by 3,000 classroom assistants, members of the public service union NIPSA, is to continue indefinitely across 27 special schools in the North.
Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane met with a number of classroom assistants at Stormont on Tuesday. The minister said:
“We spoke about the dispute and our respective understanding of the revised offer of 28 September. I listened to their concerns and I told them that I believed this dispute has gone on too long.
“My priority is to ensure classroom assistants receive the money they are entitled to as quickly as possible. This needs to be settled as soon as possible to avoid further disruption to the education of our children.
“A substantially increased offer has been made and I have announced a review of support staff in schools.
“I emphasised that no classroom assistant will lose any pay and no-one will be forced to work longer hours. In addition, there will be full salary and pension protection. I repeated my belief that all unions should consider this offer.” 

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