Airline chief’s €1.5million pay package insulting and unsustainable as pension crisis looms – IMPACT

Aer Lingus staff are dismayed by the revelation today (Friday) that the company’s chief executive, Christoph Mueller, is to receive a pay package of €1.5 million this year, which includes significant bonuses and a pension top-up. IMPACT trade union, which represents cabin crew, pilots and some administrative staff at Aer Lingus, said that the very generous package afforded to the chief executive was insulting to staff who are likely to be facing a substantial cut in their retirement incomes on top of a decision by the company to slash an agreed staff gain-sharing payment by up to 80%.

IMPACT national secretary Matt Staunton said: “Last month Aer Lingus pension trustees warned staff that their retirement income could be cut by 20% or worse. Year after year staff have seen their incomes decline, and their working lives get tougher, because of measures imposed by Aer Lingus on the basis that the company is in difficulty. A personal pay bonanza of €1.5million for Mr. Mueller just doesn’t add up against this background. It’s unsustainable and, under the circumstances, it’s an insult to the hard working staff of the airline who’ve worked incredibly hard to return the company to profitability.”

The airline’s annual report reveals that the chief executive’s pay package includes an annual bonus of €420,000, a pension top up of €125,000 and a special cash bonus of €400,000 in respect of solving the pension deficit at the airline, an issue that remains unresolved.

Mr Staunton said the company announced to staff today that it is to cut payments under an agreed gain sharing scheme. “The Greenfield rescue agreement included a payment for profitability targets worth an average of less than €1,000 per worker for their contribution to keeping the company in profit. The company has announced it will now pay only €250 under the gain sharing agreement. This is in stark contrast to those bonus payments made to Mr Mueller.”

In 2012, the chief executive’s pay package was worth €1.29 million, including a bonus of almost €650,000 and a pension contribution of €119,000. In 2011, the chief executive received a €1.25 million package, including 500,000 shares worth €325,000 at the time. In 2010 he received €1.1 million.

Mr Staunton said “Staff at Aer Lingus resent the lecture on having to take bad medicine while the chief executive continues to protect his own contractual arrangements, and trouser a lottery-sized salary and bonus package.”

No notice of latest cost reduction plans

IMPACT trade union received no notice of plans by Aer Lingus to look for €30m in further cost reductions, including job cuts and increased productivity, announced today in the airline’s annual report.

Mr Staunton commented “Aer Lingus has demonstrated, yet again, a wilful disregard for its own workforce. These latest cost reduction plans are supposed to be implemented next week (April 1st). This is an entirely unrealistic demand, and shows just how badly the relationship between senior management and workers has deteriorated. We will be working with other unions on a joint response to the company.”

Audio: 

Matt Staunton talks to Mary wilson on RTE’s Drivetime programme (28.03.14) about IMPACT reaction to news of Aer Lingus chief executive’s salary and bonuses, and to news of latest cost saving demands by the company. You can listen here, interview begins at 55:40.