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EU body approves grant for Irish ex-Lufthansa workers

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Aircrafts of German carrier Lufthansa stand on the tarmac at the Frankfurt am Main airport, Germany

Aircrafts of German carrier Lufthansa stand on the tarmac at the Frankfurt am Main airport, Germany

AFP/Getty Images

Aircrafts of German carrier Lufthansa stand on the tarmac at the Frankfurt am Main airport, Germany

Hundreds of Irish workers formerly employed by Lufthansa are in line to get a €2.5m grant to help find new jobs after a grant was approved by the European Budgets Committee.

The 424 workers lost their jobs when jet engine maker Lufthansa Technik, a wholly owned subsidiary of the German airline, closed its plant in Rathcoole, Dublin, in 2014.

The Government then applied for support from the European Globalisation Fund following the dismissal of the workers from Lufhansa and two of its suppliers.

The fund was set up to support EU workers who lost their jobs due to globalisation and the economic crisis.

The EU Budgets Committee has approved the €2.5m in aid for the redundant workers. This will be supplemented with a further €1.6m contribution from the Government.

The funds will be used to help the 250 workers deemed to be in the most difficulty by providing training and attempting to help them find jobs.

The move still has to be approved by European Parliament as a whole, which is scheduled to vote on the application over the next number of weeks.

But a spokeswoman for the European Commission Representation in Ireland said that they are confident of a favourable outcome.

She said: "The approval process has passed all but the final hurdles, and it is not likely that any objections to it will be raised at this last minute. So far, it has not given rise to any critical debate.

"Once the Presidents of both [EU] Parliament and Council have signed the decision the Commission has two weeks to make the payment," she added.

The Rathcoole plant was originally set up by Aer Lingus in 1980, with Lufthansa taking a 60pc shareholding in 1997 and full ownership in 1999. It was closed due to declining revenues and fewer international market opportunities.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa pilots began the first of two days of strike action yesterday in a long-running dispute over early retirement benefits and the carrier's cost-cutting plans.

The airline is trying to cut costs and expand budget operations as it tries to compete with low-cost carriers like Ryanair in Europe and Gulf rivals such as Emirates. Three flights to Ireland were cancelled yesterday.

Attempts to renegotiate labour agreements have been resisted by pilots.

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