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Fury over leaked Aer Lingus memo

Date Class
20th Jul 2005 Questionable Business Practice
Irish airline Aer Lingus looks set for a bumpy ride with unions after a leaked memorandum exposed underhand tactics to speed up a job cuts programme.

The state-owned carrier developed a 12-point plan to make life difficult for its employees in a bid to make them accept voluntary redundancy.

Plans included changing shift patterns and making staff wear tacky uniforms.

Aer Lingus claims it was merely a "discussion document", but now unions want urgent talks with management.

The airline, which is 85% owned by the government and 15% by its staff, has been axing jobs and cutting costs since narrowly avoiding bankruptcy in 2001.

Badly affected by the downturn in air travel after September 11, 2001, it has since become more streamlined, reinventing itself as a low-fare carrier to compete with domestic rival Ryanair.

Last year, workers were offered at least 40,000 euros ($49,480, 27,000) each to take voluntary redundancy.

But according to the leaked document, published in the Irish Independent newspaper, the airline was ready to adopt "environmental push factors".

These included suggestions that cabin crew swap their current uniforms for jump suits and t-shirts, while pilots should be forced to attend long, tedious training courses.

At the top of the list of controversial proposals was the "tap on the shoulder" tactic whereby employers were individually approached by management and told they had no future with the company.

Ireland's largest union SIPTU is now seeking "full clarification" from management that proper industrial relations procedures are followed.

"The company really has to decide whether its' in a voluntary situation or not.. because this document would seem to suggest they were quite prepared to ensure that it wasn't," a spokesman for the SIPTU said.




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