by Kathy Masterson
UNIONS and management at Shannon Airport held discussions this week about seeking voluntary redundancies at the Shannon Group.
It is believed that the Group is seeking up to 40 voluntary redundancies.
The news comes just days after the airport reported a five per cent increase in passenger numbers this May, and an 18 per cent increase in inbound visitors from its US routes
Limerick TD Willie O’Dea says the Government was misleading the public when it promised there would be no job losses ahead of the establishment of the Shannon Group, which merged Shannon Development with the airport.
“Clear promises and commitments on jobs were made and now they lie in tatters. Not only were we told there would be no job losses under the Shannon restructuring, we were promised thousands of new jobs,” he said.
Deputy O’Dea pointed out that in December 2012, Clare Fine Gael Deputy Joe Carey said the plans for Shannon Airport and Shannon Development had “huge job creation potential”.
At the time, Deputy Carey said that “at least 850 jobs will be created at the new international aviation services centre” and that up to 3,500 direct jobs would be created and maintained by the Shannon Aviation Development Task Force.
Deputy O’Dea also said that Shannon Group chairman Rose Hynes had declared there was no intention to reduce the number of jobs at the airport.
He concluded: “It’s clear now that we were sold a pup by this Government. Passenger numbers are up, growth is up and still there is a plan to target the workforce for redundancies. When the new Shannon Group structure was put in place its costs base was well known. It was very clear from the outset where things stood in relation to the staff, the costs associated with the amalgamation and we were told everything was hunky-dory.”
Fianna Fáil Transport Spokesperson Timmy Dooley said the talk of redundancies was “disappointing to say the least”.
“At the time of the creation of the new Shannon Group the cost base was well studied. There are serious questions that the Government must answer. Were these job losses always expected? Have they secretly been in the planning for months? The one thing we can be sure of is that these job losses were not planned overnight.”
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has defended the decision of Shannon Group to seek voluntary redundancies and the rate of job creation at Shannon Airport.
He also said he is satisfied with the progress made so far in terms of job creation.
The current staff levels of about 280 employees at Shannon Airport are based on traffic levels of four million passengers a year.
However, the airport recorded passenger numbers of just 1.7 million last year.