Siptu to seek job assurances before backing Aer Lingus sale

Union officials caution members’ job security fears yet to be allayed

IAG chief Willie Walsh has already conceded that some jobs could be lost in the Aer Lingus head office and in areas such as IT. Photograph: The Irish Times

IAG chief Willie Walsh has already conceded that some jobs could be lost in the Aer Lingus head office and in areas such as IT. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Trade union Siptu will seek assurances on the future of 1,500 Aer Lingus jobs before deciding whether or not to back a €1.36 billion bid for the carrier by rival International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG).

The union’s divisional organiser, Owen Reidy, said that it wants to meet IAG chief executive Willie Walsh and his opposite number at Aer Lingus, Stephen Kavanagh, to get guarantees that ground staff jobs will not be outsourced if the group acquires the Irish airline.

“There is a lot more that both IAG and Aer Lingus need to do to assuage members’ fears,” said Mr Reidy, following a meeting with shop stewards at the airline on Wednesday.

He added that Siptu president Jack O’Connor has also begun seeking information from the International Transport Workers’ Federation about other unions’ experience of dealing with IAG’s constituent airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

Aer Lingus trade unions are concerned about the impact on members should the Government agreed to sell the State’s 25.1 per cent stake in the airline and pave the way for an IAG take over.

Siptu is affiliated to Coalition partner the Labour Party, which is due to debate the multinational group’s proposed €2.55-a-share bid at its conference this weekend.

The union fears that its members’ jobs are the most vulnerable if IAG succeeds in taking over Aer Lingus as it represents most of the carrier’s ground and head office staff.

Mr Walsh has already conceded that some jobs could be lost in its head office and in areas such as IT, but is also predicting that the airline will need more cabin crew and pilots to support his group’s plans to expand the airline.

Mr O’Connor briefed the shop stewards on the outcome of a meeting between union leaders and both Mr Walsh and Mr Kavanagh where the employment issue was raised.

However, Mr Reidy said that this did little to allay their fears. He said they continued to be concerned that existing collective agreements would be honoured and the model of direct employment – as distinct from outsourcing – would be sustained at Aer Lingus.

The Siptu official said that members had helped deliver between €60 million and €80 million in savings at the national carrier since 2008 in order to ensure their jobs would be sustainable in the long term.

Mr Reidy warned that there is a “long, long way to go” before the union can back any deal.

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