Aer Lingus & Dublin Airport workers have my full support


Workers at Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport have been forced to threaten strike action over a number of issues because of a macho management. I fully support their action and welcome the return of strong unions that stand up to bullying bosses.

The latest dispute issue at the airline is the roster arrangements for the cabin crew. The boss at Aer Lingus, Christian Mueller, does not have to work sixty hours over a seven day period. He probably gets to meet his family at regular intervals. But he still insists that it is impossible to change his inhumane rosters to make life a little easier for his staff.

All that workers are demanding is a roster of five work days followed by three rest days. This is what exists in most European airlines and there is no reason why it should not exist here.

Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) must also come up with funds to reduce the deficit in the IASS pension fund. Pensions are a form of deferred earnings – and employers must meet their obligations. They have no excuse not to.

Over a year ago, Aer Lingus tried to dispose of €500 million in cash reserves by paying out dividends to shareholders. But the workers have contracts which state they have a defined benefit scheme – and so Aer Lingus must pay their pensioners before their shareholders.

Similarly, DAA is a largely a state company and so the government cannot get away with washing its hand of the pension crisis.The pension fund needs an immediate injection of between €30 million and €80 million. The two companies involved must come up with this. Airline and airport workers should look at the example of ESB workers and take whatever industrial action is necessary to protect their interests.

The Labour Party minister, Joan Burton, introduced a Social Welfare Act which allows for cuts to the pension of retired staff – even though these often have no right of negotiation on their conditions. Existing and retired staff should stand together to demand an injection of funds –rather than cuts. If Mueller has the cheek to award himself a pension of €175,000 per year, then active and retiired workers have a right to live without fear of pension poverty.