More than 1,100 jobs to go at SR Technics in Dublin


More than 1,100 jobs are to be lost at aircraft maintenance firm SR Technics (SRT), which has announced it is closing its operations at Dublin airport.

Workers met management in Dublin this morning after talks yesterday between group chief executive Bernd Kessler and Tánaiste Mary Coughlan on the company's "serious difficulties".

Management met staff in Dublin airport at 9.30am after unions were briefed by the chief executive at 8.30am.

They were told of the proposed redundancy of all staff currently employed by the company other than in some cases where it may be possible to transfer employees engaged in particular operations.

In a statement, the company said the loss of major contracts, the current economic forecast, as well as the high cost-base of the Dublin operation had lead to the decision to close down.

It acknowledged the "difficult" economic situation in Ireland but said all of these factors meant it could not make the business sustainable in the medium term. It will now enter into discussions with trade unions, the aviation authorities and other parties, it said.

"SR Technics has been carrying out an in-depth review and assessment of all lines of business across the entire Group, including an evaluation of their financial, operational and strategic impact. As a result of this review, the group intends to close its operation at Dublin Airport.

"Against the backdrop of adverse market conditions for the aviation industry and the global economic downturn SR Technics is restructuring its business to secure the group's long-term future and to deliver the necessary efficiencies and improved productivity throughout the group," the statement said.

It said the restructuring adapted the business to "address the customers' changing needs and priorities in the current market environment".

Line maintenance operations carried out by SR Technics at Dublin Airport will continue "as normal" but the company said these activities would transfer to another provider "at some time in the future".

"The intention to close the facility at Dublin Airport will have no impact on SR Technics' other operations throughout the group, including its facility in Cork.

Chief executive Bernd Kessler said the group was announcing this "deeply regrettable and difficult step" only after an "exhaustive evaluation" of all strategic options for group-wide operations.

"We are fully aware of the difficult economic and labour market situation in Ireland and the personal implications of a closure for our staff in Dublin. My management team will be working closely with the relevant unions over the coming weeks and we will ensure that our Dublin employees are fully informed and supported as this process develops. We will do all we can to minimise the impact of this announcement on the workforce."

SR Technics said it would now enter into formal consultation with the trade unions representing employees at the facility, which will take place over the statutory minimum 30-day period in parallel with "detailed discussions with the Irish aviation authorities, customers, suppliers and other relevant parties".

In a statement released tonight, the Dublin Airport Authority said it had agreed to buy back the leasehold property occupied by SR Technics. The land is owned by the DAA and had been leased to the company.

Pat Ward of the AGEMO (Automobile General Engineering and Mechanical Operatives) branch of Siptu said the union has been given 30 days notice from today and that a consultation process has begun which SRT believes will end with the wind-up of its operations in Dublin.

He said: "They'd engaged in meaningful talks, to try and salvage as many jobs as possible."

Siptu civil aviation branch organiser Dermot O'Loughlin said the Government needs to step in and get the company back on track.

Redundancy terms have not yet been discussed.

Minister for Justice and TD for Co Louth Dermot Ahern said the news of the company's closure was a "sad day and a dark day for the people of north county Dublin". He said the fact that SR Technics had lost a number of contracts recently "was the death knell" for the company's Irish operations.

Green Party Minister for State Trevor Sargent said it was "dreadful news" from SR Technics.

"This represents a major blow to the area. Unfortunately, the knock-on effect will almost certainly mean further job losses in the airport and surrounding areas. The news of a further 200 jobs being lost in the airport due to Ryanair reducing its summer schedule only serves to underline the urgent need to take immediate action," Mr Sargent said.

"It is imperative that every avenue for finding replacement opportunities for these people be explored and new businesses be found for this vital economic hub. We need to look at all options to help alleviate this terrible situation,” the Dublin North TD said.

The Dublin plant was formerly known as Team Aer Lingus and employs some 1,200 permanent staff and 300 seasonal staff. SRT has lost significant contracts with both Gulf Air and Aer Lingus over the last year.

Last February, the future of the Irish operation was uncertain when it lost three of its four maintenance contracts with Aer Lingus, its largest customer. All four contracts were understood to be worth some €65 million. RT had to change work practices following the loss of the Aer Lingus contracts in order to save an estimated €5 million.

An industrial row with 21 aircraft handlers over these terms and conditions of employment put the last remaining contract with Aer Lingus in doubt. However, in June the aircraft handlers agreed to the new proposals as a result the company signed the 10-year line maintenance contract with Aer Lingus.

SRT's operations include Switzerland, the UK and Bahrain.

Elsewhere, 477 jobs are to be cut with the closure of the RR Donnelley Global Turnkey Solutions plant in Limerick. Workers at the Raheen Industrial Estate factory were told the lay-offs will be on a phased basis over the next nine months.