Thursday 23 November 2017

Unions weigh in on AIB sale

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Trade unions have called for the sale of a stake in AIB to be re-examined after the Dáil passed a motion opposing the planned IPO on Thursday.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is expected to pull the trigger on the sale process next week, clearing the way for the shares to float in June, in his last major executive action before he retires.

Yesterday, the heads of the country's two biggest trade union groups and the Financial Services Union (FSU) that represents the bulk of staff at AIB, said the passing of the parliamentary motion should trigger postponement of the €3bn sale.

The Government has insisted that the AIB sale remains on course. The Labour Party motion looking to delay a sale unless proceeds can be directed for spending rather than to cut the national debt is not binding on the Government. But it is embarrassing given the importance of the sale, the single most valuable financial transaction involving the State this year.

The Dáil motion was passed after government TDs, distraction by the Fine Gael leadership contest, failed to oppose it.

The general secretary of the FSU said the AIB deal should now be parked.

"A flotation of part of the state's shareholding can take place at any stage over the coming 12 months," Larry Broderick said.

"The adoption yesterday of the motion in the Dáil gives all stakeholders the opportunity to engage on important issues for staff, customers and the wider economy. We should take the opportunity to do this."

The general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Patricia King, said the decision to sell a stake in AIB to pay down national debt was "unacceptable" given the urgent social and economic needs facing working people.

SIPTU president Jack O'Connor released a statement calling the AIB shares sale "absolutely indefensible".

Irish Independent

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