Lufthansa Technik warned Government over Shannon strike threat

Aircraft maintenance firm said industrial action would threaten future of plant

Had industrial action at Lufthansa Technik’s Shannon facility taken place in February, the company said it would have been breaching a 28-year-old agreement. Photograph: iStock

Had industrial action at Lufthansa Technik’s Shannon facility taken place in February, the company said it would have been breaching a 28-year-old agreement. Photograph: iStock

 

Lufthansa Technik told the Government in January that threatened strike action by staff at its aircraft maintenance operation would threaten the future of the plant.

A letter sent from Lufthansa Technik, which has been seen by The Irish Times, suggested that threatened industrial action earlier this year would have had serious consequences for the Shannon unit.

Dr Thomas Stüger, chief executive of products and services at Lufthansa Technik, told the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, that “the financial ability of the company in Shannon to withstand industrial action and still be in a position to meet any subsequent agreements on pay will be severely compromised”.

“In fact, the very existence of the company will be compromised,” he said.

Mr Stüger instanced the case of a base in Hamburg, Germany, which was shut by Lufthansa Technik’s parent company “due to unaffordable cost issues and when no agreement could be secured with employees”.

Lufthansa Technik employs almost 500 people in Ireland and specialises in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services. Formerly Shannon Aerospace Ltd, the company provides services to more than 50 airlines.

Following a Labour Court recommendation last summer, the company and trade union Siptu had engaged on the issue of pay. In December, Lufthansa Technik submitted a proposal to the union that included a range of measures that would have cost it €15.6 million.

This was dismissed by the union, after which industrial action was threatened, to take place on February 12th.

Agreement

Had that industrial action gone ahead, Lufthansa claimed that the union would have been breaching an agreement in place for 28 years that no industrial action could be taken until all aircraft undergoing maintenance had left the facility.

“This course of action will also mean that our customers are likely to seek solutions for their maintenance requirements elsewhere,” Mr Stüger stated in his January letter. “Ours is an extremely competitive marketplace and customers are very price sensitive. Business is easily transferable.”

In a response four days before industrial action was due to take place, Ms Humphreys said it was “regrettable that industrial action is threatened”.

“While this situation is most unfortunate and unwelcome,” she said, “experience constantly shows us that what often appears to be the most intractable of disputes are capable of resolution where both sides engage constructively and in good faith in a voluntary process”.

The industrial action was cancelled following an intervention by the Workplace Relations Commission.