Business Irish

Sunday 22 September 2019

Aer Lingus apologises to staff following claims they stole millions of euro worth of goods

Aer Lingus. Stock picture
Aer Lingus. Stock picture

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

Aer Lingus has apologised to staff following claims they stole millions of euro worth of goods from the airline, customers and colleagues.

The airline has agreed to make a donation of €25,000 to charity on behalf of staff after a meeting with its group of unions yesterday.

Chief Executive, Stephen Kavanagh, and his senior executive team made a sincere apology and expressed their regret for the hurt and upset caused.

The apology comes after a memo from chief operating officer, Mike Rutter, told staff that random security patrols and CCTV monitoring were being rolled out.

He said a bigger investment in security was needed following the loss of  “many millions of euros” every year due to stock losses.

“Guest property and company stock losses remain at levels significantly above the industry norms despite investment in new technologies and inventory management processes,” he said.

In a statement, the airline said a meeting was called to discuss serious concerns arising from an article that appeared in the Sunday Independent last week.

A Siptu spokesperson said the stock losses could have been due to stock being damaged rather than stolen.

It is understood that police and federal law enforcement authorities in the US were called in to investigate a number of "serious issues" in recent months.

CCTV cameras are being installed in Terminal Two at Dublin Airport and a security company hired to monitor staff in break areas and carts used to store duty free goods.

“The CEO acknowledged that Aer Lingus workers had been subject to hurtful and demeaning comments over the course of the last week and they sincerely regretted the upset that had been caused,” said the statement.

It said Mr Kavanagh appreciated and respected the “continued professionalism of colleagues in the delivery of excellent service and their continued hard work and dedication”.

“Aer Lingus further committed to working closely with colleagues and its representative trade unions in line with our policies, procedures and processes to address all issues of concern,” said the statement.

“Aer Lingus at all levels throughout the organisation commits to encouraging the highest workplace standards through its policies, processes and communications.

“In the spirit of this statement, Aer Lingus will make a donation on behalf of staff of €25,000 split equally between their chosen charities, Pieta House and Focus Ireland.”

Last week, an Aer Lingus spokesperson said the level of theft at the airline was “above the industry norms”.

She said "some more serious issues" have called for the involvement of law enforcement agencies. The airline believes a "tiny cohort" of staff are involved, but would not specify how many.

"However, we would not be pursuing the issue if the effect was small," she said.

Most staff behave in an exemplary manner, and perform their roles impeccably, she said.

"However, we are understandably dismayed that there are those that do not behave in an exemplary manner.

"The unfortunate reality is that a tiny subset of our 4,500 colleagues behave in a manner that falls below the required standard. This is wholly unacceptable for those working in the airline, for management and for our valued guests."

Fórsa welcomed Aer Lingus' apology to staff.

"We welcome and accept management’s apology on behalf of the Aer Lingus staff we represent, and we welcome the company’s decision to donate €25,000 to Focus Ireland and Pieta House – organisations whose work Fórsa respects and supports – on behalf of staff," said Ashely Connolly.

 The union said it would not be commenting further on the issue.

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