Aer Lingus union drops strike threat

DUBLIN Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:54am EST

DUBLIN Nov 14 (Reuters) - Staff at Irish airline Aer Lingus have cancelled plans to strike next week and have agreed to resume negotiations to resolve a dispute over a pension fund shortfall, trade union officials said on Wednesday.

Unions representing administrative staff and cabin crew had planned the first of a series of stoppages on Monday in a bid to force the airline to stump up more cash.

"The Committee decided by a majority vote that it will be accepting the mediation proposal and has called off industrial action planned for next week," Dermot O'Loughlin, an official with the SIPTU trade union, said in a statement.

The Aer Lingus staff pension scheme, which also covers workers at the Dublin Airport Authority, had a 700 million euros ($904 million) deficit at the end of last year.

Aer Lingus says it is not obliged to pay more into the fund but has been holding talks with unions for months about the shortfall in an effort to avoid industrial action.