Prospect of unrest at TEAM is revived


ALLEGATIONS of "a litany of intimidation and victimisation" of shop stewards and union activists have been made to The Irish Times by a representative of the group that organised a mass meeting of craft workers in TEAM Aer Lingus yesterday morning.

A spokesman for the company said later that it "totally rejected the suggestion of any intimidation being involved with any of the workforce".

The prospect of renewed industrial unrest at TEAM Aer Lingus, which was almost closed because of disputes in 1994, has revived after about 300 craft workers attended a meeting called by their shop stewards. It is the first such meeting in almost two years. Trade union officials were not invited.

At the meeting, shop stewards proposed that the craft workers resume their campaign to have voluntary severance packages activated for all those aged 55 or over.

The meeting also agreed to call on members to withdraw from the check off system for paying union dues. Instead, the money would be paid into a separate fund and handed over to the officials at three monthly meetings.

A spokesperson for the organisers of the meeting said afterwards that the aim was to restore greater access to officials by members on the shop floor. It would also help to rebuild shop floor structures, which had been bypassed since August 1994, when new structures were put in place on the basis of a Labour Court recommendation.

The spokesperson also said there had been "a litany of intimidation and victimisation", just shop stewards, but representatives, apprentices, on sick leave and others affected. Even at the official the unions had been refused right to carry out "card checks" workers, to see if they were unions. It was claimed union membership had 20 per cent as a result of activities.

A company spokesman said had refused a request from the group of unions to conduct a card check because it was concerned that officials from one union might try to check the cards members of another union. Instead, it had sent written details membership to each of the relevant unions.

The request from the group of unions came after a meeting on January 24th, when AGEMOU was expelled from the group. The reason for the expulsion was that AGEMOU refused to be bound by group decisions, but there were also fears among other unions that it was poaching members or recruiting non union contract staff.

. TEAM Aer Lingus is understood to have had an overrun of £1 million on its maintenance contract for the first of a series of jumbo jets belonging to Saudin, the Saudi Arabian state airline. The extra costs were partly because work done by outside contractors had to be done again by TEAM employees. Another factor is the very high specification demanded by Saudia.

A spokesman for TEAM said last night that the company was not prepared to comment on individual contracts. He said that TEAM had accepted delivery of a second Saudia aircraft.