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The truth about the Air Lingus dispute

Old 1st Jun 2002, 22:52
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The truth about the Air Lingus dispute

Forgive me for reproducing this from the union website - but this dispute will have a massive impact on all pilots and I think everyone who reads Pprune needs to be lucid, informed and clued -up about this .

IMPACT trade union
Aer Lingus Pilots’ Dispute
Background Information
29th May 2002
Pilots HAVE signed up to the ‘Survival Plan’
The company says pilots have refused to make sacrifices to ensure the company’s survival. They have not:

Pilots have accepted a two-year pay freeze in line with the ‘Survival Plan’, including a freeze on PPF increases and a freeze on incremental increases.

And, by agreeing to the postponement of an independent pay review last year, they have already saved the company over €12 million over and above the considerable contribution made by other staff. The annual saving from this sacrifice is around €20 million.

Pilots are the only staff group that did not strike in pursuit of a pay claim last year – and the only group not to have received a pay increase over and above the PPF terms in 2001.

Pilots have accepted reduced staffing.

44 pilot trainees were dismissed, many within weeks of qualification.

52 pilots have availed of unpaid leave so far.

Pilots have accepted proposals for early retirement.

Thirteen have already taken this up and the Phil Flynn proposals allow for a total of 27.

A further 20 pilots are due to retire in September 2002.

The company has now accepted that the Flynn recommendation on staff numbers now resolves the issue of pilot numbers.

More change?
IMPACT has told Aer Lingus that it is available for talks on other changes to working practices.

The union made itself available for talks immediately after pilots voted by 99 per cent to reject the ‘Russell’ package.

The union said some of the Russell proposals could be acceptable to pilots – but the company refuses to explore this.

Pilots have conceded the vast majority of change sought under the ‘Survival Plan’ Now the company is closing the airline and risking its survival over unacceptable changes to working practices that are not necessary to ensure future viability. They are quibbling over the last 100 metres of a successfully-run marathon.

Pilots are not jeopardising the company’s survival
The company says pilots are jeopardising the airline's future. They are not:

The pilots’ strike was only triggered after pilots were suspended without pay for adhering to their existing agreed conditions (NB, pilot contracts state that their working conditions are those agreed between the union and the company).

Since then the company has refused to discuss the issue with pilots or their union.

The company is now threatening a lockout, which will indeed jeopardise the company’s future and everybody’s jobs.

Management seems determined on confrontation instead of negotiation.

Aer Lingus management IS jeopardising the company’s future
Management’s decision to close the airline from Friday is not based on operational or industrial relations factors:

Aer Lingus says it cannot run services on Friday 31st May because of the strike on Thursday. But when cabin crew took one-day strike action last year normal, or near-normal services resumed the following day. And aircraft cannot legally fly without cabin crew any more than they can without pilots.

Aer Lingus says the threat of further industrial action means they cannot guarantee services on Friday But they know there can be no industrial action on Friday 31st May because, by law, seven day’s notice must be served before further industrial action can legally be taken. IMPACT has not served further strike notice

In reality, management have recklessly decided to inconvenience passengers, risk jobs, and jeopardise the airline’s future in pursuit of unnecessary confrontation with pilots.

The proposed changes are not necessary to secure survival
The company says all the proposed changes to pilots’ working practices are necessary to the company’s survival. They are not:

The company is proposing very basic terms of employment, including flight rosters based on legal minimum standards alone.

The company has often insisted that changes were necessary and then relented when unions proved them wrong. The u-turns on contracting out and compulsory redundancies are examples.

All Aer Lingus staff groups have secured modifications to the original ‘Survival Plan’ and none has had any working condition changes imposed.

Pilots have said they are prepared to talk about necessary changes – but won’t accept draconian measures that are unacceptable and unnecessary to the company’s survival.

The Labour Relations Commission proposals are not binding
The company says the Labour Relations Commission report on work practices is binding. It is not:

The LRC report does not say it is binding.

In the LRC talks, the management and union sides both said the report could not be binding.

Aer Lingus wrote to the LRC saying that it accepted the proposals, which would not have been necessary if there was no option but to accept.

Aer Lingus has rejected many third party and arbitration findings in the past.

Pilots are determined to secure the airline’s future. But like other groups of staff, they are not prepared to accept draconian measures that are not needed to secure the ongoing survival and success of Aer Lingus. Neither will they accept summary suspensions without pay or the imposition of changes to existing agreements without agreement. No group of airline staff has done, or would do, that.

This week’s strike and lock out can still be avoided if:

Suspended pilots are reinstated and reimbursed for lost pay.

The threat of further suspensions is lifted.

No changes in working practices are imposed

The company discusses proposed changes with pilots’ representatives and makes any necessary changes to working conditions by agreement – as has been the case with all other Aer Lingus staff.
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Old 1st Jun 2002, 23:23
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One thing I have not seen confirmed anywhere, which seems to me to be the crux of this matter is:-

According to IAA rules, is a ten-hour minimum rest period legal and/or considered safe?

If it is, then this is simply a straightforward industrial dispute.

If it is not, end of story. The company is trying to impose illegal conditions on its workforce.

CAA rules say it is not acceptable, but they don't apply in Ireland. IMHO, 10 hours is simply not safe. Pilots would be flying fatigued. I assume that the Irish equivalent of the ANO states that pilots should not fly if they know, or suspect that they are not fit?
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Old 1st Jun 2002, 23:41
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Capt Stable,

the IAA have no rules. Their policy is to approve the operators FTDT proposals.

Many years ago an Irish Airline called Clubair had 100 hour per month duty limits. They kept running out of crew (no prizes for guessing why!) so they asked the Dept of Aviation (now the IAA) for an extension -so they were given 120 hours per month.

Ask and you shall receive - the IAA policy on FTDT*

* Subject to certain conditions:

Not available to Cpl/ATPL holders.
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Old 1st Jun 2002, 23:45
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Okay. So the IAA refuses to regulate on safety grounds.

IALPA needs to get the message out - that the specific stumbling block in the new proposals is directly related to safety.

Keep it simple, and keep it direct. The stuff posted above by the Union contains far too much verbiage that is totally irrelevant and distracting from the main message.

When the general public appreciate what the new rules would mean, I have no doubt they would fully support the pilots.
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Old 1st Jun 2002, 23:49
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Captain Stable,

Being legal and being safe as far as the IAA goes is not synonymous.

It appears the Irish airlines produce a "wish list" of regulations that the IAA seems happy to rubber stamp.

The company wants to impose a clause saying ten hours in "exceptional circumstances" without actually wanting to define that term.

Dan the Aer Lingus propaganda man said that if the pilots allowed the ten hour rule to stand management would let the pilots call "fatigued" if they needed to.

This from a management that suspended seven guys that effectively did just that!

Does anyone blame the Aer Lingus pilots for not trusting their management?

Didn't think so.

Professional pilots around the world are watching.

The Aer Lingus pilots should be rightfully proud to be the ones to step up to the plate on our behalf.

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Old 2nd Jun 2002, 07:49
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Captain Stable - my apologies for the thread creep here, but I feel that a slight mis-impression is being created over what is 'legal' or not - in the UK.

Cap 371. Page 37. Para 17.2.1
In the case where the rest period earned by a crew member is 12 hours, and suitable accomodation is provided by the company, then that rest period may be reduced by one hour. In such circumstances, if the travelling time between the aerodrome and the accommodation is more than 30 minutes each way then the rest period will be increased by the amount the total time spent travelling exceeds one hour. In both situations the room allocated to the crew member must be available for occupation for a minimum of 10 hours. This paragraph does not apply to rest periods that exceed 12 hours.
This - generally interpreted as '10 hours at the hotel', is, according to the CAA (verbally only), a company 'facility' - NOT AT THE CAPTAIN'S 'DISCRETION', AS MANY PEOPLE THINK - and there is nothing to stop a crew being rostered for such rest if a company choses. Nor does it count as 'reduced rest' for the purposes of the next duty (this again from the CAA - verbally only). This could lead an 'unscrupulous' management into regular use of such reduced rest to the detriment of safety.

Obviously in that situation, the question of abuse of what must surely be intended as an 'escape' option would come to the fore?

The travelling public should, perhaps, be asking themselves and the CAA - and any other regulatory body (in this case, Ireland) - whether this is a safe practice. Perhaps the exact status of this 'let' needs to be clarified as well by the relevant professional bodies?
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Old 2nd Jun 2002, 12:01
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With respect to the reference to "exceptional circumstances", perhaps that might be left at the captain's discretion?

I know little about IAA regulations.

Within the UK, there is adequeate provision for use of captain's deiscretion in exceptional circumstances. The danger is in providing the company with a little leeway without rostering on the assumption that captain's discretion will be exercised.

This, it seems to me, is what the company are demanding the right to do.

Occasionally, and only occasionally, a break from duty of eleven hours, at least ten of which must be available to a crew at the hotel is acceptable from the point of view of Flight Safety.

Any pilot repeatedly being rostered for such a duty is going to become fatigued very rapidly.

And if ten hours "rest" is to become available to the company as a matter of course (what defines "exceptional circumstances"?) and therefore (assuming an average case) a pilot will be at home for a maximum of nine hours, during which time he must chat with the kids, sort out his bank statement and phone bills, mow the lawn, talk to his wife, have a couple of meals AND get some sleep), the situation will very rapidly deteriorate to one where safety is quite seriously endangered.
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Old 2nd Jun 2002, 12:25
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Captain S - I cannot see where your reference to 'exceptional circumstances' is coming from? Have a re-read of the CAP quote!

What I am trying to raise the profile of here is that CAP371 gives ANY UK AOC holder the 'right' to roster crews (when 'hoteled' by the company) for a minimun of 10 hrs 'at the hotel'.

No exceptional circumstances, no 'Captain's Discretion' (although he may decide it is NOT safe, of course, with the associated risks of disciplinary action (vis AL), no 'occasional', no 'when necessary'. Just 'MAY BE'.

I should point out that it cannot be done (on UK rules) on an 'at home' rest period other than by the 'Captain's Discretion'.

The point is, do the public think that a 12 hour duty day (eg start at 0600, finish at 1800) can safely be followed by 10 hours rest at a hotel, with food and relaxation to find, as well as pack/unpack, possibly also arrangements to make for the next day, followed by get-up at 0500 to report for duty at 0600 the next day, possibly for the same?
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Old 2nd Jun 2002, 13:50
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The reference to "exceptional circumstances" comes from the Aer Lingus PR guy who said that such circumstances are those in which the 10-hour rest would be used.

As for hotel rest, the minimum rest allowable by CAP371 is 11 hours. This must be extended when the journey time between the airport and hotel is more than 30 minutes each way.

With regard to your final paragraph, I agree absolutely with its main thrust - this is NOT safe.
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Old 3rd Jun 2002, 17:55
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This thread has been split. Please continue rostering / fatigue conversations on the new thread.

Keep this thread specifically for the Aer Lingus debate.

Last edited by Captain Stable; 3rd Jun 2002 at 18:01.
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Old 3rd Jun 2002, 21:39
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The real problem about the 10 hour minimum rest issue is that it is being done by Ryanair and Aer Arann pilots as a routine. The Ryanair guys are also doing very close to 900 hrs per year but they have got a fixed roster of 5 ON 2 OFF, 5 ON 3 OFF which they seem to be happy about. Generally, they seem to get 12 to 14 hrs rest between duties. Maybe EI should look at how they manage this?
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Old 4th Jun 2002, 15:42
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To put the words 'EI' and 'MANAGE' together in the same sentence is hilarious.
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Old 6th Jun 2002, 07:36
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Apologies for 'prolonging the agony', but I am STILL interested to hear from an Emerald Isle person exactly WHAT the Irish REGULATIONS say about rest to put the issues into perspective.
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Old 6th Jun 2002, 11:39
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BOAC, my understanding (I hope someone will correct me if wrong) is that the IAA don't have anything equivalent to CAP371.

Instead, an operator submits an FTL scheme proposal for approval. What other guidelines exist I don't know, but I gather there is no state minimum rest dictated.

Perhaps it would be useful to examine JAR FTL regulations?
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Old 6th Jun 2002, 13:45
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Not sure that giving operators a 'blank sheet of paper' on which to write rules regarding rest etc is something that the passengers on Irish registered aircraft would like to hear!

Yes, a case for Inspector JAR I think?
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Old 7th Jun 2002, 18:41
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Lets see here:

There is an OAM from the IAA back in 1997 which if implemented would severly adjust Aer Lingus' FTL.

The IAA rubber stamp what the operator requires.
The IAA will only enforce a FTL scheme under the guise of JAA.
And we all know (in the EU anyway) what the Simpson proposal is like.
Aer Lingus sought 10 hours rest at base which is certainly NOT in CAP 371.
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