Sunday 17 November 2019

Aer Lingus sale: SIPTU calls for job guarantees

David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

David Kearns

The largest trade union in Aer Lingus has asked the Government not to sell its shares if jobs are threatened in the Aer Lingus sale.

SIPTU believes the takeover bid by IAG, the owner of British Airways, will have far reaching implications for staff and have urged the Government to seek assurances to protected them.

The board of Aer Lingus, where 3,900 people are employed, is recommending the €1.3bn sale of the airline, of which the State owns a 25.1pc stake.

Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke, SIPTU President Jack O'Connor said that almost 50pc of the Aer Lingus workforce was represented by his union, and that there was no guarantees on the impact the sale would have on job retention in Dublin, Cork and Shannon.

His view was shared by former Irish Congress of Trade Unions boss David Begg, who said the sale of the airline to IAG was "a hugh decision for the country".

"It could lead to the airport becoming an extenison of Heathrow leading to more investment and tourism for Ireland," he said.

"Or it could mean that in five years time, most of Aer Lingus' servces are outsourced to the United Kindgom."

"It's a real concern because we've no guarantees what this sell could mean for Dublin."

A statement from IAG this morning said that it believes its proposal for Aer Lingus would "secure and strengthen the Irish airline's brand" and its "long term future" by bringing it within a "successful and profitable European airline group".

In it, the multinational airline company said it recognised the "importance of direct air services and air route connectivity" for Ireland, adding its takeover of Aer Lingus would ensure it could leverage the "advantageous geographical position of Dublin for serving connecting flows".

Regardless of assurances though, Mr Begg said there was no guarantee where the sale could lead.

 "Anything can be said now but in the future things change," he said.

 "In five years, ten years, circumstances could be different. I remember what happend to Eircom - the deals it made with the Dutch and Swedish telecommunications groups KPN and Telia looked good at the time but when both sold their shares, the company was loaded up debt and the country's broadband infrastructure paid the price."

Online Editors

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