Experts to probe airport pension problem

A panel of four experts has been given until the end of March to report on ways to breach the impasse over the Irish Airline Superannuation Scheme (IASS), which covers workers in Aer Lingus and the Dublin and Shannon airport authorities. IMPACT has agreed to engage constructively with the group.

The panel includes two union nominees, former IMPACT general secretary Peter McLoone and Eugene McMahon of business consultants Mazars. There are also two nominees from employers’ group IBEC.

The panel will try to resolve disagreements between management and unions over how to bridge an €800 million funding deficit. It will review the financial assumptions and projections used as the basis of a 2013 Labour Court recommendation, as well as recent proposals from IASS trustees.

The move came as IMPACT’s IAESA branch, which represents management and administrative staff in Aer Lingus and the airport authorities, voted to take industrial action. However, the union will not serve notice of industrial action while the expert review is underway. The union’s cabin crew branch last week decided not to ballot at this time because its members face more immediate issues, which may require a ballot for industrial action. Pilots are not involved because they have a separate pension scheme.

statement from ICTU, IBEC and the two government departmentsinvolved said the experts would carry out “a detailed investigation, to include discussions with relevant stakeholders including management and the relevant trade unions and consultations with the LRC and the Labour Court.” The panel’s terms of reference are:

  • To identify the areas of agreement and disagreement between the parties in the context of the terms of Labour Court recommendation (CCC-125984-12) in the case of the DAA and (CCC-094293-10) in the case of Aer Lingus)
  • To take account of the terms and impact of the IASS trustee proposal on those Labour Court recommendations; and
  • To identify how those industrial relations issues can be resolved.

Meanwhile, IMPACT wrote to members in its three aviation branches to refute reports that the union had agreed to Aer Lingus plans to withhold a gainshare payment to staff. “There is no basis for this assertion and this fact is now acknowledged by the company,” it said.

IMPACT says the withholding of the gainshare payment would be an unacceptable breach of agreements. The union’s official Johnny Fox compared the proposal to the company’s recent decision to give more than €600,000 to its two most senior executives through a share deal.