This article is from the July 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.


The recent elections saw workers draw blood and severely wounding the hated Fianna Fail/PD government. Instead of moving in for the kill, a golden opportunity to finish off the government's break-up plans for Aer Rianta was wasted by the trade union leadership.

By Councillor Clare Daly

Contradictory reports have emerged about what was agreed or not agreed on this issue between the unions and the government at the national pay talks.

What is clear is that even prior to the talks, ICTU boss David Begg casually informed the world at large that Aer Rianta workers were not going to hold up the pay talks for everybody else. No condemnation of the government's wanton destruction of a semi-state jewel that has provided relatively decent employment, assisted in regional development and returned millions to the exchequer in revenue used to fund other essential services.

No criticism of a break-up plan that has not been justified in any business or commercial sense, and is solely a cover to prepare the company for privatisation and open the door to the private big business interests who have been dying to get their hands on the spoils.

Legislation for the proposed break-up is being circulated. Yet SIPTU bosses say that they have received assurances in relation to security and quality of employment from Minister Brennan. As every former TEAM Aer Lingus worker knows assurances from little Seamus are not worth the paper they are written on.

We are told that no staff or assets will be transferred to the new company until business plans have been developed, the trade unions consulted, discussions held, orders approved by the Oireachtas and that this will not happen before April 2005. However the implication of this statement is that all the government has to do is follow these simple steps and then its game on, off you go to the new companies.

The reality is that the only way to safeguard all the jobs is to ensure that the company is not broken-up. If you are opposed to the break-up then there is no point in playing the game and looking for commitments, while the move towards break-up gathers pace. The only way to stop them is to take them on. The arguments against the break-up are overwhelming. The government, which is pushing this agenda are now severely weakened and in crisis following its hammering at the polls. Immediate steps should be taken to organise workers across the three airports, and prepare for action to force them to do a U-turn on the issue.

The trade union leadership has already twice jettisoned action planned by the workforce. If they are determined to throw the government a lifeline, then workers across the airports must organise outside the structures and take matters into our own hands.

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