Decision to privatise Aer Lingus is a slap in the face to employees - Morgan
Louth Sinn Féin TD, Arthur Morgan has described the decision to privatise Aer Lingus as "scandalous". He said, "It has the ability to seriously undermine the long term strategic interests of this state" and is "a slap in the face to the employees who are working to restructure the company to sustain growth and profitability". Deputy Morgan also questioned the Minister for Transport after reports that there is a €243 million deficit in the company's pension scheme.
Speaking during a debate in the Dáil this evening on a Sinn Féin motion that calls on the Government to retain Aer Lingus in State ownership he said, "The decision to privatise Aer Lingus is scandalous. It has the ability to seriously undermine the long-term strategic interests of this state. The decision is a slap in the face to the employees who are working to restructure the company to sustain growth and profitiability.
"Workers at Aer Lingus who have committed to the restructuring the company and making it profitable once again are now faced with the serious implications which this decision poses for job security and working conditions. There is serious concern regarding reports that there is a deficit in the company's pension scheme, which is shared with the Dublin Airport Authority. Media reports have claimed that this deficit was in the order of €243 million. I understand that this was never signalled to the Aer Lingus unions and that they received an assurance from Willie Walsh that all was well with the pension fund. What happens to pension entitlements in the event of privatisation if there is this level of debt? I ask the Minister for Transport to clarify what exactly is the status of the pension fund, if and when the Government intends to set up a separate Aer Lingus pension fund and how such a pension fund will be financed.
"This state should be very proud of our national airline and should realise what an asset it is to the country. Once we lose control of the national carrier there is no guarantee that in an economic decline any airline would continue to serve the state if they deemed that it was not profitable to do so.
"Sinn Féin will continue to fully oppose all plans to privatise Aer Lingus which in the common good must remain in public ownership." ENDS