Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Dublin, Senator Darragh O’Brien, has accused the Government of sacrificing retired workers and long-serving staff to fatten Aer Lingus up for sale.
Senator O’Brien has claimed that the Government wants to sacrifice State control of the airline for a paltry sum, in a deal that will have long term consequences for workers and for the economy.
“What we have seen from the Government over the past 24 hours is completely farcical. This is an extremely important decision for Ireland’s future. And yet the Government has attempted to ram through the deal, staging an absurd debate in the Dáil without first providing Deputies with crucial expert documents about the implications of the sale,” said Senator O’Brien.
“Let’s be clear – 75% of Aer Lingus was sold in 2006 in order to allow the State to invest in the airline and ensure it was viable into the future. Since then it has flourished with the help of the staff. But it was essential that we kept the 25.1% to protect the staff, protect the airline and ensure that it continued to serve the interests of the country first and foremost. That State shareholding is a key strategic asset.
“I am deeply concerned about the deals that have been done behind closed doors to fatten the company up for sale. 15,000 pension scheme members have been hung out to dry to facilitate this sale, taking savage cuts to their pensions in order to cover a €740m deficit. It’s a slap in the face to long-serving members who are being sacrificed for the Government’s immediate interests.
“The Government wants to sell off Ireland’s strategic interests in Aer Lingus for just €340m. This is a paltry sum considering what is being sacrificed. Whatever excuses the Transport Minister tries to make, the bottom line is that sphere of influence will move from Dublin to London. Any assurances given to allow the sale to go ahead will mean nothing once the airline is taken over by a large multinational whose only focus is on profitability, not connectivity.
“I extremely disappointed by the manner in which the Labour Party have sold out on this. They have been happy to let Aer Lingus staff and retirees take the hit for a Fine Gael agenda to sell off State assets. If the Government is hell bent on pushing this through, at the very least they should return some of the profits to pension scheme members who were forced to take savage cuts to facilitate the cuts,” said Senator O’Brien.