Aer Lingus cabin crew have rejected company proposals that would have averted lay-offs and further pay cuts in return for accepting new work practices. 

However, the airline had already withdrawn the proposals last Monday on the grounds that unions had failed to meet the company's deadline for acceptance.

It now plans to axe 500 jobs, as well as implementing temporary layoffs and cutting pay to 30% of pre-Covid-19 rates.

The proposals, which would have involved reforms for non-pilot grades were finalised on Friday, but the management deadline of last Monday for acceptance meant unions would not have had time to ballot on them.

When cabin crew insisted that their union Fórsa should not accept the proposals without a ballot, the management deadline could not be met, and last Monday, Chief Executive Sean Doyle withdrew the package for all grades.

Instead, he confirmed the airline would proceed with temporary lay-offs in a number of areas, including Shannon, as well as reducing pay and hours to 30% of pre-Covid rates.

On Friday, the airline went further and announced 500 redundancies.

Meanwhile, Fórsa continued to ballot on the proposals and today rejected them by 75% to 25%, with a turnout of 82%.

A number of staff feared that the proposal, which would have seen pay kept at a floor of 50% of normal, even if people worked less than 50% of their hours, could have left staff members "in significant debt" to the company for the over-payments, which would have had to be recouped at a later date.

A Fórsa spokesperson said the ballot outcome vindicated the decision of the union's cabin crew branch to put the package to a vote.

They accused the management of doing everything in its power to "antagonise" its staff over the last ten days.

"A company like Aer Lingus, which is currently receiving hundreds of thousands of euro from the public purse, should be ashamed of its treatment of staff across the airline," the spokesperson said.

He noted that while Aer Lingus employees wanted to play their part in assisting the airline, they felt they were being treated with "disdain" by management.

He said that while Fórsa fully respected the approach taken by other organisations within the Aer Lingus group of unions, the cabin crew branch felt they could not accept the "sweeping" changes on behalf of cabin crew, including debt accrual, without a ballot.

He said the company's actions over the last ten days had demonstrated a total disregard for staff, particularly in denying them time for a vote on the proposals.

"Management has sought to deny a voice to the people affected by its proposals, with the laughable suggestion that a one-week ballot process would jeopardise a package that will be in place for more than a year-and-a-half.

"It has agreed far superior proposals for its better-paid staff. And, in its impatience, it has announced 500 redundancies and imposed a further pay cut, which means the taxpayer is now footing most or all of its pay bill.

"The outcome of the cabin crew ballot and the developments that have come to light since their ballot commenced last Monday (15th June) demonstrate the need for a new approach from the company, and a new engagement between the airline and its unions."

Fórsa said it would make no further comment at this time.

In a statement releases this evening, Aer Lingus said they "did not receive the required acceptance of the Covid Crisis Recovery Plan document from the group of unions by 6pm on 15 June, [and] the proposal had lapsed.

"In advance of the ballot result, Aer Lingus had informed Fórsa that the ballot outcome had no standing.

"In the context of the recent notification to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection regarding anticipated redundancies, Aer Lingus is commencing a consultation process with employee representative organisations."