24 January 2008 Edition

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Air traffic controllers' safety warning

THE Irish Aviation Authority has been criticised by Sinn Féin for provoking a dispute by not meeting air traffic controllers’ concerns over staff shortages, working hours and safety implications for airline passengers and crews.
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Arthur Morgan TD, said that the stressful nature of air traffic control should mean workers should not have to work overtime if they do not want to.
Morgan added that the decision not to recruit sufficient staff levels, which has left the system dependent on overtime, “is clearly about profit”.
Air traffic control is a stressful job and the public rely on these workers to keep them safe when they travel through Dublin Airport, he said. “Workers should not be made to work overtime and on their rest days if the airport authorities cannot cope. Air traffic controllers are calling for more staff and Dublin Airport must provide the necessary back-up.”
In a further criticism of airport management, the Sinn Féin TD said:
“Dublin Airport must also be aware that the public are becoming sick and tired of its inability to run its business effectively. If there continues to be disputes at Dublin Airport, Ireland could begin to suffer as a tourist destination. It is in the interests of those who want to make a profit in the airport to have an efficient, fairly-paid and well-run staff. Cutting corners  on staff levels will ultimately serve nobody.”
Meanwhile, Morgan has called on Aer Lingus to ensure that any decision to change a maintenance contract with SR Technics, in preference for in-house maintenance, does not result in jobs cuts.
“This whole episode exposes the problem with Aer Lingus being privatised. A decision is being made now that has the potential to make 1,500 people unemployed and the Government is powerless to stop it,” Morgan said.
“SR Technics was originally ‘Team Aer Lingus’ and, during the controversial decision to outsource maintenance contracts, the 1,500 staff were given ‘letters of comfort’ about their job security. It is not acceptable now that their jobs are at risk.
“Whoever holds the contract, these workers are qualified to do the job and should not be cast aside by Aer Lingus, as they were when the contract was given away in 1990.
“I echo SIPTU’s call for corporate responsibility from Aer Lingus.”

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