Article from the Sept 2004 edition, Socialist Voice

Aer Lingus - NO JOB CUTS!

AER LINGUS is being prepared for the auctioneer's hammer. Manage-ment and the government are conspiring to sack workers, outsource its core areas and ditch its international alliances to turn it into a low fares airline for privatisation.

By Stephen Boyd

1,300 workers are to be made redundant in mid September in a company that has just made a profit of 100 million! A 40,000 redundancy payment won't go far for a family struggling to pay a mortgage and bring up kids. Willie Walsh chief executive at Aer Lingus is driving this agenda with the full backing of Bertie Ahern's government.

The anti-working class nature of this government is summed up in the fiasco which is now unfolding at Aer Lingus. Ahern is reshuffling his cabinet. He hopes that by adding a few new faces to his front row that it will give the government a new caring image, and help them regain support lost in the local elections.

But exiling Charlie McCreevy to Brussels will do little to win Ahern support. This government will continue to be judged on its actions not its words or how it window dresses its image.

Ahern and Harney are committed to an agenda of privatisation. The deliberate sacrificing of unionised, pensionable jobs in Aer Lingus and the plan to turn it into another Ryanair or Cityjet is a scandal.

Our public services are under threat. Aer Lingus is not the only state company under threat. Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann are already being prepared for privatisation, and our postal service is being run into the ground to allow private companies to move in and pick off its profitable sectors to make a financial killing.

The leaderships of SIPTU and IMPACT are culpable in the Aer Lingus scandal. For years they have refused to take on the company, even now they are focused more on the terms of the redundancy package rather than organising a fight to save jobs!

Workers at Aer Lingus should refuse to accept Willie Walsh's dictates. If they refuse to play along with the company's voluntary redundancy programme then management and the government will have to try and force 1,300 workers out of a profitable state company. Aer Lingus workers can beat the company's privatisation agenda if they stay united. If the leaders of SIPTU and IMPACT continue to refuse to stand up to the company then the workers should organize their own campaign of action to save their jobs and to stop the privatisation of Aer Lingus. A defeat for the government in Aer Lingus would throw its privatization agenda into chaos and lay the ground for similar victories in CIE and An Post. The time has come to draw a line in the sand!

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