TRAVEL chaos is looming at Shannon after union members at the airport and at Shannon Aerospace this week voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.
Two separate rows about pension schemes have prompted Aer LIngus and Shannon airport employees, as well as workers at the Shannon-based aircraft maintenance facility to vote for industrial action, up to an including all-out strike.
Strike notice has not yet been served in either case but with a legal lead-in time of just seven days after notice, workers could down tools in time to scupper travel plans for people returning home for the St Patrick’s Festival as well as trips to the Premiership League and 6 Nation Rugby games.
SIPTU said there was a “record turnout” for the vote at Shannon where members voted by 96 per cent and 98 per cent for industrial action in two separate ballots to get an acceptable resolution of the dispute on the pension issue.
There has been a significant deficit in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS) for several years.
SIPTU represents ground handling staff and some cabin crew at the country’s three main airports.
Dermot O’Loughlin, SIPTU’s Pension Policy Advisor, said; “This demonstrates that staff at the SAA are angry, disillusioned and frustrated that an acceptable resolution has not been found to the pensions crisis.
“It is the view of the Pensions Committee that this situation has come about as a consequence of the intransigence and procrastination of the Trustees of the Scheme, the Regulatory Authority and the company which has forced the membership into this very serious position.”
Meanwhile, 97 per cent of SIPTU’s 350 members in Shannon Aerospace turned out for a ballot on industrial action which was passed by a 95 per cent majority.
The row concerns the company’s withdrawal of a defined benefits pension scheme which has been in place for twenty years.
SIPTU Limerick representative told the Limerick Post: “This scheme has been withdrawn despite the fact that the company is in profit”.
The Lufthansa Technik AG company, which owns the Shannon Aerospace plant, specialises in the provision of Base Maintenance services on Boeing 737, 757 & 767, Airbus A319, A320 and A321 aircraft to the world’s airline industry.
A statement from the company said: “Shannon Aerospace Ltd is currently considering the implications of the outcome of the ballot”.
“It remains the responsibility of the IASS Trustee to submit an appropriate funding proposal to the Irish Pensions Board. This is the next crucial step in this process.
“We wish to inform all Aer Lingus customers that we have not received notice of industrial action and as such our schedule is planned to operate as normal”, the statement concluded.
There was no comment available from Shannon Airport management at time of going to press.