An emergency conference motion, calling upon the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe TD, to oppose the sale of the Government’s stake in Aer Lingus, has been passed by delegates at an IMPACT trade union conference today (Thursday 21st May).
IMPACT national secretary Matt Staunton told delegates at the union’s Services and Enterprises division conference, taking place in Ballybritt, Co.Galway, that the CEOs of both Aer Lingus and IAG had refused to respond to union requests for assurances on workers pay, terms and conditions in the event of a successful takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG.
Matt said “IMPACT has sought a number of specific assurances in the event that a formal bid by IAG for the state’s share in Aer Lingus is successful. IMPACT is the largest union at the airline, representing cabin crew, pilots and office staff at Aer Lingus. In March this year, the union communicated a number of points, in relation to the commitments that would be required in the event of a takeover, to both CEOs.
“IMPACT outlined these commitments without prejudice to the fact that it remains our view that we don’t believe that the proposed takeover is a good idea for jobs, for Aer Lingus workers or for Ireland’s connectivity and economic development,” he said.
Matt outlined the assurances the union has sought from the two companies, which include the following:
- No compulsory redundancies and a pre-agreed staff friendly redeployment scheme forming part of a suite of collective agreements to be underpinned in a legally binding agreement
- Identifying, honouring and respecting all existing collective agreements for all new and existing staff
- Protecting agreed pay rates, terms and conditions
- Maintaining direct employment as the norm
- No offshoring of cabin crew or pilot bases unless by agreement
- Agreeing a protocol that would ensure that staff of any IAG group cannot be called upon to be involved in Aer Lingus work in circumstances of a dispute of any nature in Aer Lingus.
- Establishing an Irish/Aer Lingus presence on the IAG board, and the inclusion of a worker representative on any newly composed Aer Lingus board within the IAG group
Matt said that IMPACT also sought IAG’s real position on connectivity and the use of the Heathrow slots owned by Aer Lingus. He added that, in the event that the proposed takeover yielded significant sums for Aer Lingus, that there would be a compelling opportunity to re-establish a gainsharing scheme for Aer Lingus staff.
“The sums involved, should the takeover be completed, are significant and the potential for gainsharing in a meaningful way is realistic. In the event, as many as 20 management figures are set to share very large cash dividends among themselves. In that circumstance, the company must consider diverting some of the funds to be shared with all staff,” he said.
Matt said that the only conclusion that could be drawn, from the two airline CEO’s refusal to engage on the commitments for existing staff outlined by the union, was that any assurances from the companies about the safety of existing jobs, or the provision of future jobs and connectivity, would be worthless. On that basis, he said, the union called upon the minister to oppose the sale.
The president of IMPACT’s pilots branch, Evan Cullen, also spoke to the motion, and expressed concern that a takeover of Aer Lingus would mean an end to direct flights from Ireland to North America. He said that flights are likely to be routed through IAG’s hub at Heathrow, as is currently the case with IAG flights from Scotland and Manchester.
Mr Cullen added that any commitment on the use of Heathrow slots would be finite and subject to change once the commitment expired. “The day after the commitment ends the slots will be moved somewhere else, because they will make more money somewhere else” he said.