Passengers to face further flight chaos as construction to begin on airport apron
Security staff at Dublin Airport have warned that they will refuse to work alongside – or even help train – any soldiers drafted in to guard the airport.
The Government’s crisis plan to deploy the Defence Forces at the airport could further stoke an already delicate industrial relations situation, sources said.
In one email to trade union officials, a senior security officer claimed he was writing on behalf of concerned colleagues: “Under no circumstances will I or any of my colleagues allow Defence Forces staff to shadow us undertaking our roles, as part of any training process for them – and we would expect to have the full backing of our union representatives in advance of this situation arising.”
Sources said soldiers had already begun training, and a trade union official wrote in response to concerns that it was planning to meet both shop stewards and DAA management: “DAA did not contact your shop stewards or this union to either consult or give us the heads up on the announcement. We learned of this development through news media and are currently awaiting to speak to the DAA on the matter.”
A DAA spokesman said in response that it remained confident in its operational plan and that it was “determined in our efforts to avoid the more drastic measures adopted by other airports internationally, such as curtailing flights.
“The contingency measure is for a short defined period between July 6 and August 15. Deployment of the Defence Forces at perimeter vehicle checkpoints would only arise in the event of a Covid resurgence. Our expectation at this point is that the deployment of the Defence Forces may not be necessary,” he said.
DAA would work with “our trade union partners on any matters arising.”
Security staff at the vehicle control posts have raised objections with union officials, with one email to officials saying he and his colleagues were “extremely concerned” about the plan and questioned whether “any consultation took place between the DAA and our union representatives”.
He wrote: “Myself and my colleagues already have huge concerns over our long-term futures within the DAA, given the fact the company has taken decisions to either alter opening hours of some vehicle checkpoints, or in other instances to close posts for days or weeks at a time.”
He said vehicle checkpoint guards had amassed experience over many years and criticised the move to replace them “with personnel trained and certified in a matter of weeks.”
Meanwhile, construction will begin this week on the airport’s major north apron and taxi replacement project. Restrictions will come into effect on the ramp as the old pavement is torn up and replaced. This may at times lead to delays to aircraft movements on the ramp, with potential knock-on impacts for passengers, sources said.
The DAA spokesman said the project was key “to ensure a safe, efficient, simplified airfield with a co-ordinated approach to maximise the capacity of the airport in partnership with our airlines and business partners.
“The construction phasing has been discussed with all stakeholders and optimised to take advantage of the new North Runway which will open, on schedule and on budget, this summer.”