Airport workers under attack

The Fianna Fail privatisation juggernaut is rolling through the semi-states in general, and the transport sector in particular. Determined to crush everything in its wake, oblivious to all rational argument and hell-bent on attacking jobs, working conditions and public services in the name of "competition" - a code name for handing over state assets to big business backers at the expense of the workforce and the taxpayer.

By Councillor Clare Daly

Faced with this juggernaut Aer Rianta workers prepared for a two-hour stoppage designed to coincide with the arrival of EU Ministers, as part of a campaign to stop this sabotage and protect their jobs. They were met with a vitriolic outpouring from all sections of the media and political and business establishment. In response, SIPTU backed down, with a promise from Seamus Brennan that the jobs would be protected. But as any former TEAM Aer Lingus employee knows, a letter of guarantee from Seamus is not worth the paper it is written on.

SIPTU president Jack O'Connor went out of his way to assure the establishment that the union had not a problem with the break-up, they merely wanted to be assured that jobs would be protected. But the only way jobs can be protected is to stop the break-up.

Aer Rianta is a consistently profitable state company, which has paid 100s millions euro in dividends to the exchequer, provided relatively decent secure pensionable employment, assisted in regional development and despite what Micahel O'Leary says, has been proven to have the third lowest landing charges in Europe. So why break it up?

There is no economic justification for the decision. There is no competition. Dublin, being the capital, with one third of the population will always be dominant. The break-up marks the death knell of Cork and Shannon, and will leave Dublin saddled with a debt and competition from the new terminal. It is a pre-privatisation measure. The only winners will be the vultures waiting in the wings to get their hands on the profits.

Similar pre-privatisation moves are afoot in Dublin Bus and Aer Lingus. There are only two choices for workers in these companies: bow down and be annihilated or take on the Government, the media and vested interests that dominate Irish society. Workers in Dublin Bus and Aer Rianta have already balloted for industrial action. Now is the time to act on those decisions.

Co-ordinated strike action by workers in CIE and Aer Rianta over the break up of their companies could be the start of a campaign to halt the Government in its tracks. SIPTU and the other main transport unions have the ability to win over the majority of the population behind a campaign to keep our public transport system state owned. Most working class people have no desire to see CIE, Aer Rianta and Aer Lingus handed over to the likes of Michael O'Leary.

The unions instead of cosying up to the Government, should immediately launch a campaign of industrial action linked to mobilising the general public in a campaign that would be capable of defeating this hated Government and stopping privatisation.

See another article from this issue - CIE under attack

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This article is from the Feb. 2004 edition of Socialist Voice. Back issues are available here.