LTAI agree to Labour Court intervention

Thu, Apr 9, 2009, 01:00

Management at aircraft engine maintenance company Lufthansa Technik Airmotive Ireland (LTAI) have accepted an invitation to attend the Labour Court over a dispute with workers over proposals for work practice changes.

Staff at the plant at Rathcoole, Co Dublin had voted by a substantial majority against the proposals, which would have involved cuts in overtime rates and other changes.

In a statement this afternoon, the company said it was accepting the invitation to the Labour Court following an emergency management meeting this morning and telephone contact with its parent company in Hamburg.

“The LTAI is optimistic that all interests at the facility will engage productively with the Labour Court to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the issues in question. This solution will allow the introduction of the new V2500 engine and safeguard the future of 465,” it said.

It stressed the “time critical nature” of achieving a resolution.

The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) welcomed the company's decision.

“This is what we wanted and the company, as well as the unions, is bound to follow the procedures laid out in our house agreements to seek assistance of an independent third party before taking drastic steps such as mass lay-offs”, TEEU spokesman Ian McDonnell said.

“The Court hearing will give us an opportunity to have members concerns properly addressed without the distraction of a threat of imminent closure hanging over our heads. While we appreciate the need to maintain competitiveness we are also concerned to avoid a race to the bottom."

“German employees enjoy higher pay rates, a shorter working week and various concessions that are denied to Irish employees. We want to ensure the gap is not widened further under the guise of seeking essential economies,” he added.

SIPTU Branch Organiser Tersea Hannick also welcomed the company's decision this afternoon.

“We have been urging the company to use the facilities of the court to resolve our differences”, she said.

“Hopefully the company realises that its attempt to pressurise employees into accepting its terms by imposing a deadline this week, or face plant closure was counter-productive. The Court has provided an opportunity next week for LTAI to engage with us meaningfully. We hope they do so and we will certainly do our utmost to preserve the competitiveness of the plant while ensuring members interests are fully protected.”

The company said on Tuesday its proposals did not involve any job losses or cuts in core pay. It said a planned $40 million investment at the facility would secure the future of the plant for the next 15 years. It is understood that the engines maintained at the Irish plant will soon be obsolete.