Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Whose interests are really being served by break-up of Aer Rianta?

25 June, 2004

Speaking on the State Airports Bill today, Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Seán Crowe described the proposed break-up as a "glaring example of the Government's drive towards appeasing the private sector and vested interests."

Deputy Crowe said:

"Minister Brennan's signalled proposals for the break-up of Aer Rianta have produced little more than a rewrite and re-naming, at considerable cost in financial terms, in terms of stress to employees of Aer Rianta to trade unionists, in terms of time used in Government departments and in terms of the real cost to the tax payer, and only to put another name on a dilemma that is sure to resurrect its head in the not too distant future.

This Government and its Minister have failed to present a credible rationale for the proposed break-up of Aer Rianta and the whole proposition is probably one of the most glaring examples of the Government's drive towards appeasing the private sector and vested interests. Ironically many of us are relying on Charlie McCreevy for common sense to prevent this new direction. There is a serious absence of forward-thinking at play - in fact there is serious evidence of a lack of any serious logical thinking at all.

"The break up will not only affect Aer Rianta workers but the thousands of other workers that service the respective airports. The assurances given to staff in relation to remuneration and transfer are not cast in stone and will be dependant on whatever the unions and staff associations will be able to extract during the six month period after the Act is passed. The Bill states that employees transferring to Cork or Shannon cannot be reduced to lower beneficial terms "except by collective agreement?." The challenge to arrive at collective agreements is one to which Trade Unions and workers are well accustomed and we will see a similar battle again in relation to the proposal to break up C.I.E.

"Sinn Féin has called for the production of a White Paper on Air Transport and certainly a credible policy paper needs to be produced as a matter of urgency. There is a need for an improved infrastructure at regional level. Ireland needs a solid, forward-looking aviation strategy and the money spent so far by the Minister in pushing forward amendments to the Airport Bill would have been better used in the research and consultation that would go to devise such a strategy.

"The proposals contained in this bill will not improve services for passengers and workers in the industry. I believe these proposals will serve vested interests and inevitably lead to greater privatization, greater cost to passengers and a downgrading of services at these airports. There is no financial plan or no clear vision coming from this legislation. It's all smoke and mirrors but we still don't know who is pulling the strings and on behalf of whose interests." ENDS

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