THE Shannon Airport Authority could head to the High Court in a last-ditch bid to avert a four-hour work stoppage by Siptu that could ground flights this Friday.
The industrial action comes at the start of the busiest weekend of the year to date and is scheduled to take place between 5am and 9am.
An “overwhelming” majority of Siptu staff at Shannon had voted in favour of industrial action, the union said, over a €780 million deficit in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme, which includes Siptu staff and pensioners at Shannon, the DAA and Aer Lingus.
Management at Shannon wrote to Siptu last Friday calling on the union to withdraw its notice of strike action, stating any such action would be “contrary to the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1990”.
Similar warnings have been served on Siptu by the DAA and Ryanair, both of whom are going to the High Court this week in an effort to have the strike called off.
And management at Shannon has also told the union that it will be seeking similar “interlocutory relief” from the High Court if Siptu fails to withdraw its notice to strike.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar urged Siptu to instead engage with the expert panel set up last week - following talks between ICTU, employers and government - to resolve the pensions dispute.
Siptu has said it will engage with the panel but stopped short of calling off its action.
“I think it is welcome they are going to engage with the expert panel but I don’t think it’s right that they would continue to strike while they’re in negotiations. That really isn’t what happens normally in industrial relations,” said Minister Varadkar in response.
“My message is to ask them to think again to reconsider whether they want to go ahead with this strike targeting tourists and Irish citizens over St Patrick’s (weekend).”
Aer Lingus, meanwhile, has already cancelled or rescheduled flights in and out of Shannon this Friday.
Flights to and from Heathrow (EI 380 and EI 381) have been cancelled while a Boston arrival has been delayed by over three hours to avoid the work stoppage. Aer Lingus’ transatlantic flights from Shannon are scheduled to operate as normal.
It remains to be seen how morning flights operated by Ryanair, including Stansted and Gatwick, will be affected.