Article from the Oct 2004 edition, Socialist Voice
Aer Lingus - No outsourcing
No job cuts No privatisation
PICTURE THE scene. You work for a company for many years. You've put up with pay cuts, job losses, increased productivity. The owner's investment has been repaid many times over. Your company is now highly profitable, Û100 million profits in the past year, and then management call you in and tell you that your job is gone. This is the situation facing Aer Lingus workers. By Councillor Clare Daly
The plan to axe 1,325 jobs was unveiled to union representatives over the past weeks and includes the elimination of entire sections of the company, such as catering, cleaning, reservations, IT, internal services and so on. It's not that these functions will cease to be carried out, it is just that they want somebody else to do them - contractors, agency staff, companies outside the country. All no doubt on yellow pack wages and conditions, with no job security!
1,325 jobs in any other company would be met by a massive outcry for emergency action. Yet here we have the wealthiest chief executive in the semi-states, announce such a plan. The same person who has stated he wishes to buy the company, which would net him and his merry men Û10 million. And he is allowed to carry on regardless! Clearly Willie Walsh is no maverick. He has the backing of the government to nurture and advance their privatisation plans for as long as he can deliver them without too much bloodshed.
The only way to tackle this issue is head-on. It is a blatant conspiracy to rob the taxpayer and the workforce. However, instead of going on the offensive, the unions have been engaged in a talks process for weeks, with little information being given to staff. Meanwhile many functions in many areas have ceased leaving workers vulnerable and demoralised. Other areas are understaffed and under pressure, creating the climate where many feel they have no choice but to take the redundancy. This lack of action and leadership is creating a situation where job losses are taking place through demoralisation.
This nonsense must cease. The management and government must be fought around the clear demands of no outsourcing, no job cuts and no privatisation.
By boldly stating that this is a viable company, with viable jobs and we are not going to stand aside and allow them be handed over to anti-union, minimum wage companies to line their own pockets, the unions would give the workforce enormous confidence. It would gain a massive response from other workers, particularly in the transport sector where the same processes are taking place in Dublin Bus and Aer Rianta, and in the broader communities in north Dublin, Shannon and Cork. Part of a major campaign of industrial opposition could include the calling of a one-day transport strike against privatisation and outsourcing. This would put the government under significant pressure.
This is the only way to avoid the destruction of the national airline for the benefit of the speculators and financial vultures lining up to make a killing at the expense of the workforce and the taxpayer. The unions would do well to remember the old slogan, "If we fight, we might win, if we don't we've lost already". This is already the eleventh hour - the stalling must stop before it's too late.
Earlier articles on Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport