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Aiport workers to strike over hours

It is the “little people” not the management of Galway Aiport who will suffer, says SIPTU, who have threatened to take industrial action after next Wednesday in response to reduction in working hours. Management have insisted that they have done everything they could to safeguard jobs and the airport’s future growth.

Members of SIPTU trade union voted decisively last week to take strike action in response to the decision by airport management to reduce working conditions without going through normal industrial relations procedures. Aiport employees including ground crew, fire crew, terminal agents, bar and shop workers were told that there will be a reduction in working hours from 39 to 20 per week which will come into effect from November 2.

SIPTU official Paul Gavin told Galway First last Friday that it is the “lowest paid in the airport” who will have to work these reduced hours for a minimum of one year. He said that the move was unusual as the company decided to abandon the procedure of going through the Labour Relations Commission (LRC ) and this move has left union members with no choice but to take industrial action.

“We anticipate, with regret, that there will be serious disruption. We did offer to defer the strike action if the company agreed not to impose the changes but they haven’t responded. We did have local negotiations initially but no agreement was reached. The LRC gave a date of November 6 to sit and talk but the company insisted on the changes going in prior to any meeting. We can’t accept that. It’s unreasonable.

“The staff are very angry about the cuts imposed. We agreed that we had to make savings but there been no reduction in the hours or even the minutes of the management team. It’s the people on the ground doing the work that have been brought to a stage where they can’t support their families,” said Mr Gavin.

In response to the strike action, Managing Director of Galway Aiport Joe Walsh said: “Galway Airport regrets having to implement the introduction of reduced working hours in a number of departments at the airport. However, in the current economic environment it is essential for the future of the business to take decisions in time so as to minimise the impact on our staff and respond to the ever changing business environment.

“The airport has in all of its discussions to date with its staff and union representatives endeavoured to maintain jobs at the airport as it is imperative that we are in a position to safeguard for and achieve future growth when the aviation industry returns to a growth pattern... The threat of industrial action is regrettable but the airport wishes to reassure its customers that the airport will continue to operate business as normal.”

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