Sale of Aer Lingus will erode workers’ rights, conditions and jobs

IAG’s Willie Walsh Must Resign Immediately as Chairperson of the NTMA

AerLingusFleet_largeIn a statement, People Before Profit spokesperson John Lyons has hit out at the proposed sale of Aer Lingus to the International Airlines Group (IAG). Cllr Lyons has said that despite the fan fare from the government and the business community this deal could yet prove to be one of the worst ever facilitated by an Irish government.

Cllr. Lyons expressed shock at the proposed sale price: “Despite the government fanfare about the €1.3 billion sale price the fact remains that Aer Lingus, which made €70 million in profits last year, currently holds slots which are, according to Deloitte, worth some €925 million and has net cash reserves of a further €445 million. In reality the proposed sale will benefit no one outside of the shareholders of IAG.”

cllrjohnlyonsCllr. Lyons also voiced his grave concerns over the lack of firm guarantees to protect jobs and prevent outsourcing.

“The continuing give away of publicly-owned services and state interests by this government is shameful. The pro-private business and anti-worker policies of the Fine Gael/Labour government will inflict serious harm on Ireland’s economic capacities in the decades to come. It shows that this government will not stop until all publicly-owned services and entities end up in private hands.”

Cllr Lyons continued by noting Willie Walsh’s reputation for union busting and the appalling track record of job losses under his management. During his time as CEO of Aer Lingus he cut 2000 jobs and the IAG takeover of Iberia cost some 4500 jobs.

“Having spoken to a number of airport and Aer Lingus workers I have been told that there is a general unease and fear surrounding this takeover. They are right to feel this way. Willie Walsh has a reputation for union-busting, so much so that he earned the name “Slasher Walsh” during his time as head of both Aer Lingus and British Airways as he savagely cuts costs and laid off thousands of staff and worsened the working terms and conditions of many more. This takeover by IAG represents the selling out of workers by the government who have been completely abandoned by the Labour Party.”

Finally Cllr Lyons pointed to the clear conflict of interest in this deal: “IAG’s Willie Walsh is currently the chairperson of the National Treasury Management Agency which has responsibility for NewERA, the holding company for most state assets. This is surely a conflict of interest as NewERA’s role includes “advising on the governance of the State companies and their respective financial and commercial operation, including the expected rate of return on capital and appropriate dividend policy.” That Mr. Walsh is currently bidding to buy a company in which the state holds a 25.1% interest is most assuredly a clear conflict of interest and I am demanding that Mr. Walsh resign as chairperson of the NTMA immediately.”

John Lyons is a People Before Profit councillor for the Beaumont Donaghmede local electoral area and the People Before Profit candidate for Dublin Bay North for the next general election.