Unions to ballot for industrial action over outsourcing plans at Dublin Airport

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Connect and Unite Trades Union members employed as maintenance workers at Dublin Airport will ballot on industrial action, up to and including strike action, if management proceed with an attempt to outsource their roles to third party companies.

onnect Regional Secretary, Sean Heading, said: “Our union has written to the management of the daa today (Friday, August 20), stating that if it proceeds to unilaterally outsource maintenance jobs to third party providers we will take appropriate steps to defend our members interests. In order to be in a position to do this Connect members employed by the daa at Dublin Airport will be balloted for industrial action, up to an including strike action, that will proceed if management attempt to implement its outsourcing plan.”

He added: “The daa threat results from a dispute between management and our members concerning an attempt to force them to adopt work practice changes without agreement. To threaten workers with an end to their employment unless they accept changes is not a proper manner in which to conduct industrial relations.”

Connect Assistant General Secretary, Brian Nolan, said: “We believe that this semi-state company is seeking to use the crisis in the aviation industry, which has resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic and the failure of the Government to adequately response to its impact on the sector, to destroy highly professional good jobs. Our members are greatly angered by this management approach.

“The issues at Dublin Airport go well beyond this one company as not confronting management’s actions directly would set a dangerous precedence for workers throughout the economy as it begins to emerge from the crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. We believe using such a crisis to enforce a strategy of outsourcing employment is cynical and abhorrent, particularly when it is considered that the daa is a semi-state company.”

He added: “Connect representatives are available to meaningfully engage with daa management on all the outstanding issues and seek an agreed solution to any matters in dispute. However, such discussions can only take place within the confines of respectful industrial relations which necessitates the removal of the threat to outsource our members roles which are crucial to the operation of Dublin Airport.”

Unite who represent some of the same cohort of workers in the daa has also announced its intention to ballot for industrial action saying the company’s “focus on an outsourcing agenda is unacceptable”.

Unite Regional Officer, Willie Quigley said there had been a “complete u-turn” by the company which he says is not abiding by a Labour Court recommendation that its members have voted in favour of accepting in a second ballot after an inconclusive first ballot.

Mr Quigley said: ‘Throughout this process, I would contend that the daa has failed to be upfront with our members”.

‘The company is now in contravention of a recommendation which they originally accepted,” he said.

“Instead of engaging in good faith, the company has demanded that future engagement be limited to the single topic of outsourcing our members’ work to a third-party service provider.

“It is our members’ strong view that the company’s sole focus is on advancing its outsourcing agenda – an agenda which we are not prepare to accept.”

Reacting to news that the two unions are to ballot for industrial action, a daa spokesperson said: “The daa has engaged extensively with the Unite and Connect Trade Unions on a new operating model since June 2019, without securing an agreement. Having exhausted all the industrial relations machinery of the State including the WRC and the Labour Court we wrote to both Unite and Connect Trade Unions on Friday July 23 to inform the affected Employees that we would engage with their respective Trade Unions on the next steps to implement the changes required to re-engineer our business after the devasting impact of COVID-19 on our business.

“From the onset of the crisis in aviation created by COVID-19, daa has engaged with all our trade unions on a weekly basis to update them on the impact of the crisis and to agree an approach to right size the business and introduce new ways of working across all areas. This engagement has resulted in 25 agreements being reached with 2,000 colleagues covering 93% of our employees. 1,000 employees have also left daa under a voluntary severance scheme given the decimation in aviation global and our business nationally as a result of COVID-19.”

The daa spokesperson added: “The changes sought under the New Ways Of Working proposals were very simple – use basic technology like company email or electronic tablets to manage job orders, work across the campus in T1 or T2 as required, roster changes and clean as you go. The degree of change required, varied across the different areas of the business, with some seeing considerably more change than others.

“The change requested from the workers in the asset management division was no different and, in many areas, considerably less than that sought from other colleagues across our business. In no way were we changing what people earned in their terms and conditions in terms of their pay.

“We will study the contents of the correspondence received late on Friday evening and revert presently to the trade unions with a considered response.”

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