Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Dublin North Central, Labour)
Question 748: To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport with reference to the green field agreement between Aer Lingus and SIPTU of 15 February 2010 regarding proposed outsourcing of administrative staff from Aer Lingus, if he will confirm if he will use the State’s 25% shareholding leverage to ensure that employment rights of existing Aer Lingus staff will be upheld, that outsourcing to foreign based companies will be prevented, that redeployment opportunities for existing workers will be maximised, that he will engage with the company and the union to ensure that a mutually agreeable transition can be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7938/12]
Leo Varadkar (Minister, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
It should be noted that the purpose of the 25% shareholding by the State in Aer Lingus is to support the general public interest, for example, boosting tourist numbers or securing a dividend for the taxpayers rather than to support any sectoral interest whether it be staff or management.
The terms of the Greenfield plan for Aer Lingus were agreed by Aer Lingus management and the Unions in 2010 following an intensive negotiation process and with the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission. The implementation of that agreement is entirely a matter for the Board, management and staff of the company and it is not one in which I have any role.
It is not open to the Government to intervene in the day to day operations of Aer Lingus. While the State’s 25% shareholding in the company entitles the Minister to nominate three directors for appointment to the Board, the duties of these directors derive from the Companies Acts so the directors are obliged to pursue the best interests of the company. Subject to that duty,the three directors are mandated to seek to ensure that all decisions of the company that have significant implications for wider Government, aviation or regional development policies are considered at Board level. In any such decisions they are directed to seek to reconcile commercial and public policy objectives.
Where necessary, the established industrial relations mechanisms in the State are available to assist. I understand that the LRC assisted in the negotiation of the greenfield plan.