Friday 23 February 2018

Unions concerned despite Kavanagh's reassurances

SIPTU organiser Owen Reidy
SIPTU organiser Owen Reidy

John Mulligan and Emma Jane Hade

Unions remain deeply concerned about the fine detail of the Aer Lingus deal, despite reassurances from chief executive Stephen Kavanagh.

Mr Kavanagh yesterday wrote to Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe and stressed a takeover by IAG brings a "significant opportunity" for growth "that is both in the interests of employees and the company".

In the letter, Mr Kavanagh said that Aer Lingus had a "strong preference" to utilise direct labour "wherever this can be done efficiently and effectively".

Mr Kavanagh was responding to the minister ahead of his meeting with representatives from trade unions Impact and Siptu yesterday in advance of the Cabinet discussing IAG's planned takeover of Aer Lingus.

Mr Kavanagh told the minister that he believed the collective agreements Aer Lingus had in place "provide flexibility and mobility across our workforce without unduly restricting possible approaches".

"Having clear registered employment agreements that safeguard the respective interests of employees and the company is mutually beneficial," he said.

But following the Cabinet meeting, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said it was a matter of "very serious concern" that the Government had failed to achieve guarantees on possible job losses and outsourcing.


"Our fears about the loss of existing jobs in the event of an IAG takeover have not been assuaged," said Congress General Secretary Patricia King.

"We are calling on both IAG and the government to address these very real concerns."

Trade union Impact issued a statement saying the sale was bad for jobs, the airline and the country's connectivity.

"For the staff at Aer Lingus, there are genuine concerns of compulsory redundancies if the deal goes through, along with the prospect of a further erosion of terms and conditions in the inevitable restructuring."

It added that assurances over the use of Heathrow slots would "evaporate" once the seven-year time period had elapsed.

Siptu organiser Owen Reidy said the union, which represents half the airline's workers, would "vigorously oppose the sale" if the company failed to provide a commitment not to impose redundancies or outsource jobs.

However, employer body Ibec welcomed the deal.

"IAG's plan to use Aer Lingus as a springboard for further growth on the key North Atlantic routes could significantly increase the number and frequency of routes to and from Ireland," Ibec said.

Irish Independent

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