Aer Lingus, Ireland’s recently privatised national airline, has decided to drop a route between Shannon airport in the southwest of Ireland and Heathrow airport in London. It argues that a route between Belfast airport, in the northeast of the island in Northern Ireland, and London Heathrow would be more profitable.
As a private company, it is now answerable to its shareholders, and no longer to the Irish government (excepting that the Irish government is a shareholder). As a resident of Limerick, I’m sure the removal of a Shannon – Heathrow route will affect tourism and business in the area. However, this leaves an opening for another airline to fill this profitable route.
The latest twist in this tale is that Aer Lingus pilots are going to strike for two days next week. They’re unhappy that Aer Lingus will be hiring staff under different terms and conditions in Northern Ireland as those under which they hire pilots in the Republic of Ireland. There was mention also on the news this evening that Aer Lingus want pilots that they currently employ to re-apply for their jobs when Aer Lingus move to Belfast.
Whatever case the unions think they have, I do not think they have any right to force their employer to use the same employment conditions across country boundries.
Lately, when the trade unions have made it into news reports, it looks more like they’re trying to prove they’re worth the subscription fees than actually fighting any just fight. The case here is the same. The pilots’ trade union has no jurisdiction in Northern Ireland, but they’re trying to force Aer Lingus to use the terms and conditions agreed for the pilots Aer Lingus hired in the Republic of Ireland for the pilots they plan to hire in Northern Ireland. And, to do this, they’re upsetting the travel plans of 50,000 people due to travel with Aer Lingus next Wednesday and Thursday.
Basically, I understand the requirement for trade unions under unfair employment regimes. However, these employees are being treated and paid well. The unions have become too powerful, and are simply wielding strike threats to force the hand of employers to do what they want. Often times this is looking for large pay increases or reduced working hours (or both, like the nurses!). Now they’re trying to force employers to deal with staff in other countries under their terms and conditions.
It’s gone too far. In my opinion, trade unions in Ireland aren’t worth the money. Take your subscription fees, save for a while and take a holiday or something! Just don’t allow these institutions to wield this power for no good reason.