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McLaughlin voices concern at Aer Lingus suspension of pilots

10 October, 2007


Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin has expressed concern at the action of Aer Lingus in suspending pilots who refused to participate in training of recruits for its Belfast base. This action can only be described as confrontational and will only further escalate the dispute with the unions concerned.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"Firstly, I wish to reiterate my welcome for the Aer Lingus decision to locate at Belfast International Airport. Without doubt this decision could make a major contribution to developing the local and all-island economy.

"However I must express my concern at the Aer Lingus decision to suspend pilots who have chosen not to participate in training recruits for the Belfast base as a protest at the company's different pay scales for Belfast based crew. This action can only be described as confrontational and will only further escalate the dispute with the unions concerned.

"This is a direct result of Aer Lingus decision to employ staff to be based in Belfast under different, and it seems, disadvantageous terms and conditions. Clearly this decision is discouraging staff from locating from other bases on the island and therefore creates further obstacles to mobility of workers on the island. One of the key objectives of the administrations North and South through the all-Ireland Ministerial Council has been to build an island economy and to remove any obstacles to mobility for workers within the island.

"The actions of Aer Lingus in creating different pay scales and working conditions for staff at its Belfast base than those pertaining to existing staff in the rest of the island are contrary to what the Executive in Belfast and government in Dublin are attempting to achieve. In the spirit of the new dispensation that we are all trying to bed down, I would appeal to Aer Lingus to reappraise its decision to introduce differing pay scales on the island of Ireland and to desist from actions that will further exacerbate the sitution." ENDS

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