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Government should intervene in Aer Lingus dispute - Doherty

3 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has called on the Government to intervene in the Aer Lingus dispute and instruct management to implement the wage increases awarded to its workers under the 'Towards 2016' Social Partnership agreement.

The Donegal Senator said today, "The Government constantly preach about the benefits of partnership and bi-lateral agreements between employers and workers, but are standing idly by as Aer Lingus management unilaterally halt wage increases awarded to its workers under the 'Towards 2016' Social partnership agreement. This is unacceptable and puts the whole partnership process in jeopardy.

"The Government cannot stand idly by while a company of which they are a major shareholder undermines an agreement to which they are a party to.

"This scenario follows a string of debacles resulting from Fianna Fáil's decision to sell off our former national airline Aer Lingus. Sinn Féin constantly opposed the privatisation and forewarned that it would have massive repercussions for worker wages and conditions and would lead to the abandonment of the island's strategic national interest. Regrettably, but unsurprisingly, these predictions have come to fruition in the last few weeks.

"While Aer Lingus workers are being compelled to tolerate these pay freezes it would be extremely interesting to find out how much Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion and the management 'elite' are paying themselves in bonuses. While the Programme for Continuous Improvement aims to generate up to &euro20 million annually in labour cost savings, the government thought nothing of spending this amount on consultants advising on the privatisation.

"The erosion of employee wages and conditions is an inevitability with privatisation whereby the management's only loyalty is to the shareholders. This Aer Lingus privatisation has already resulted in disaster for the mid-West region with the cancellation of flights from Shannon-Heathrow and now we are witnessing further ultimatums being placed on the Aer Lingus workforce to make more sacrifices.

"Instead of Aer Lingus pushing down costs by reducing bonuses paid to its directors or payouts to shareholders it has once again targeted the workforce to bear the brunt of its decisions." ENDS

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