Siptu campaigns for better standards for aviation workers


Siptu has launched a new campaign aimed at improving employment standards for aviation workers in Ireland.

The union is seeking a registered employment agreement for the aviation industry that will set out minimum standards for workers as part of its "Join a Union, Stick Together and Improve Contracts of Employment" (Justice) campaign.

Siptu claims many workers are on short-term contracts, working for little more than the minimum wage, and work extra hours without overtime. It also complains that staff are forced to pay for uniforms, work Christmas Day and public holidays, and can have their annual holidays cancelled without notice.

The campaign is being organised jointly by Siptu’s aviation and Aer Lingus branches.

The union's aviation sector organiser, Dermot O’Loughlin, said some terms of employment workers are employed under is making it impossible to have normal social life, buy a home or raise a family.

“Workers in unionised employments such as Aer Lingus, Aviance and Servisair earn between 17 per cent and 28 per cent more in basic pay than workers in comparable jobs at non-union companies such as Sky Handling and Industrial Temps. This can amount to between €352 and €657 a month and the gap widens significantly when items such as better overtime rates and shift allowances are taken into account," he said.

"Workers in unionised companies also have better sick pay and pension schemes. They have more confidence in raising issues that concern them with the employer, either directly or through their union representative,
and, most important of all, are treated with respect."

Mr O'Loughlin said the registered employment agreement would ensure a level playing pitch for companies and minimum standards for workers. He said it would also meet the objectives of the Association of European Airlines, of which Aer Lingus is a member, which recently committed itself to maintaining good employment standards for both employees and for those employed by subcontractors in the sector.

Aer Lingus branch organiser Teresa Hannick said the campaign was iming to promote best practice and "reverse the tide of bad employers driving out good ones which we see happening across wide sectors of the economy".