Staff at Irish airline Aer Lingus will defer industrial action set to begin next week in a dispute over a shortfall in the company's pension scheme in order to enter talks aimed at reaching an agreement, the SIPTU union said on Thursday.
Clerical and administrative staff as well as some cabin crew and airport workers had threatened to begin a series of two-hour stoppages on Monday but will instead commence talks to resolve the issue at the country's Labour Relations Commission (LRC).
"The SIPTU Industrial Action committees at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority have reluctantly agreed to defer the action planned for Monday next and to attend the LRC," SIPTU official Dermot O'Loughlin said in a statement.
"They have made this decision despite strong reservations over the negotiation infrastructure proposed by the LRC and the unnecessary tactics used by the employers over the last number of days."
SIPTU represents most of the Aer Lingus staff in a pension scheme that had a EUR€700 million (USD$904 million) deficit at the end of last year. The pension scheme also covers staff at the Dublin Airport Authority.
Aer Lingus says it has no legal obligation to increase its fixed contribution to the pension scheme, but has been holding talks with unions for months about the shortfall in an effort to avoid industrial action.