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Aer Lingus grounded in spite of fresh talks.

SENSITIVE talks to resolve a dispute that has plunged Irish holiday makers into chaos yesterday entered a new phase - as it seemed certain the bother would continue into this week.

Aer Lingus pilots' representatives and management at the loss-making Irish national airline began a hearing at the commission as all flights remain grounded until further notice.

Pilots staged a one-day strike on Thursday protesting against new work schedules but the airline said the threat of further stoppages had forced them to ground all flights until Monday at the earliest.

In a statement Aer Lingus said: "Following day-long discussions with the National Implementation Body, Aer Lingus has accepted a request to attend an urgent meeting at the Labour Court at 2pm on Saturday June 1.

"However, the airline advised it will not be in a position to resume operations on Monday June 3rd. This position will continue to be reviewed on a daily basis."

More than 100,000 travellers have been hit by cancellations, costing the firm U2 million per day.The LRC was involved in the formation of a survival plan for the company last October in the wake of growing financial losses.

The now-disputed work rosters were a part of that agreement, which also saw more than 2000 people taking redundancy.

The decision to move to the LRC came after negotiations at Dublin`s Government Buildings, led by the National Implementation Body, yesterday.

Peter McLoone, Secretary General of the pilots` union Impact, said his members wanted to "get the airline back to work as quickly as possible".

He said: "All of the pilots would prefer to be up in the skies, but obviously the depth of feeling on this is very strong."

Pilots who presented themselves for work yesterday were told they had no duties.

All have been taken off the payroll while flights are grounded.

More than 300 pilots and 150 cabin crew protested at the airline's headquarters to show they were available for work.

Impact has accused Aer Lingus of conducting a lockout.

The trade union Siptu, has warned that the row could prove fatal for the airline.
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 2, 2002
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