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Tuesday 24 October 2017

'Flogging off' state firms will lead to job losses, say unions

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

UNIONS are strongly opposed to "flogging off fine state companies to predators" in order to raise €850m to boost the economy.

Although they welcomed its new €2.25bn stimulus package, they do not share its vision of forging ahead with the sale of state assets to raise funds.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said it "cannot understand why good viable Irish companies should be sold off" to raise some of the funding for the stimulus programme or to repay private bank debt.

It urged the Government to set up a holding company to sell bonds to raise funds "not flog off fine companies to predators" to make a "puny" amount of money.

"In the context of our debts, the capital to be raised is puny, especially in a deep recession," said chief economist Paul Sweeney.

Unions representing staff at the companies that have been ear-marked for sale fear there will be job losses and outsourcing if the Government goes ahead with the plan.

The leader of the country's largest union, SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor, said the union did not agree with the sell-off of State assets.

"Other methods are available to fund the stimulus plan -- such as the potential to incentivise more than €2bn from private pension funds through a rebate of the pension levy," he said.

IMPACT, which has 2,000 members at Aer Lingus and 300 in Coillte, welcomed the plan, particularly the Grangegorman project. But it said it is opposed to the disposal of the State's quarter share in Aer Lingus and Coillte's harvesting rights.

General secretary Shay Cody said if Aer Lingus was to be taken over by a foreign company like Etihad, its head office functions would be taken out of Ireland. In addition, he said Coillte had not explained how it would remain viable if a large part of its income was put on hold.

Last February, the Government announced it would dispose of assets worth €3bn in the next two years but insisted it would not be a fire sale.

Irish Independent

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