Article from the June 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

Aer Lingus for sale

Wages and conditions in Terminal decline!

by Councillor Clare Daly

LAST MONTH, the phoney war between Fianna Fail and the PDs on the future of Dublin Airport finally came to an end, with the government announcing its plans to a fanfare of what a great day this was for the future of Irish aviation.

Fianna Fail politicians and Chambers of Commerce were falling over themselves in their enthusiasm - Aer Lingus, we were told, is a really viable company which can now go forward and secure the investment needed to open up new routes. If that was the issue, then why didn't the government just go ahead and invest? There is nothing in EU rules, that prevents the owner of a state company investing in it as long as it is viable.

The real reason is that this debate is not about securing the future of aviation- it is about selling state assets for the enrichment of private individuals at the expense of the passenger and the workforce.

The differences between the government parties were merely differences of packaging. There was no difference on whether to privatise - only on how to present it. Much more than the speculated 51% of Aer Lingus will be sold, (with the government maintaining a small shareholding), following the appointment of advisors on the best method of sale.

Meanwhile the Dublin Airport Authority DAA, (formerly Aer Rianta) will build the new terminal. However the contract to run the second terminal will be awarded at a later date following a tendering process. This is a sop designed to let the unions save face. How can the DAA secure the tender? Its bid could only be secured by lowering existing wages and conditions.

Competition is the new buzzword for attacks on public services and driving down wages and conditions. What is being unleashed here is a massive attack on the workforces, which have already taken a huge hit in terms of large job losses albeit through voluntary redundancy.

A determined campaign by the unions to expose this process would gain massive support. Working people everywhere are experiencing an attack on wages and conditions, the idea of a permanent job is becoming a thing of the past in the race to the bottom. The government, while forcefully pursuing the privatisation agenda, is cautious and wants to avoid conflict with the unions.

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