Case Study 7
Aer Lingus- Payroll data was not disclosed inappropriately when not paying Impact trade union membersí wage increases
Three employees of Aer Lingus complained that information held on the Aer Lingus payroll database regarding their authorisation to allow deductions at source in respect of their union subscriptions was used by Aer Lingus to identify and single them out as IMPACT members and deny them pay increases and refuse them staff travel privileges. They felt that Section 2 of the Data Protection Acts which provides that personal data obtained for one or more specified, explicit and legitimate purposes was breached as their payroll data was further processed in a manner incompatible with the purpose for which it was given i.e. solely to deduct union subscriptions.
On enquiry my Office established that Aer Lingus did not refer to the payroll database in this instance. In May 2003 it reached agreement with SIPTU on work practice changes in return for the 4% and 3% pay increases provided for under national pay agreements. Agreement was not reached with IMPACT on work practice changes, so Aer Lingus decided that these pay increases would only be applied to SIPTU members. SIPTU supplied a list of their members to facilitate payment of these increases. Accordingly, I considered that the complaints were without foundation and that no contravention of the Data Protection Acts had occurred in this instance.
This contrasts with the details outlined in case study 2 of my 2000 Report where the Department of Education and Science used trade union membership subscription data to withhold pay in an industrial dispute and indicates that Aer Lingus was fully aware of its Data Protection responsibilities.
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