Some of the 410 people employed by Lufthansa Technik Airmotive Ireland (LTAI) described news that the company is considering closure as a pre-Christmas “kick in the teeth”.
The company based in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, which maintains aircraft engines and which had a turnover of €152m in 2011, said its decision was prompted by a shrinking international market and declining revenues.
The company said it would begin 30-day negotiations next Monday with the three unions representing the workforce, Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU), Unite and Siptu.
TEEU acting general secretary Arthur Hall maintained the company had given the worst Christmas present ever to its employees and said the announcement was unexpected.
“We never thought it would come to a complete closure. There’s nowhere else in this country for them to transfer their skills. It’s very short notice. The timing is quite disturbing. There’s 410 families affected by this,” Mr Hall said.
“The company’s reason for closing is that the plant has become uncompetitive due to increased competition from China and the Far East,” he added.
It’s been speculated that the Rathcoole plant could close as early as next February and while up to 30 workers may be able to transfer to sites across Europe, union officials are worried about the pension pot for the remaining workers.
It’s €10m in deficit and is a stand-alone investment fund not supported by the German company’s wider pension plan. Unions have been negotiating for three years to get assurances from management on protection of the fund.
The majority of the workforce are highly-skilled, well-paid engineers and craftsmen and about two- thirds of them are over 50.
Many have been with the company for 20 or 30 years.
LTAI managing director Wolfgang Moerig praised the workforce for their contributions over the years and expressed regret that the company was now at this point.
Willie Quigley, the Unite regional organiser said its focus will be on exploring all possible avenues to secure the future of the plant as it currently stands or with a reduced workforce.
“We are assuming that the company will engage in constructive and meaningful negotiations to that end.
“If, despite all efforts by both unions and management to secure the future of these jobs... if it is decided that closure is inevitable, we will recommence consultations with a view to securing the best possible outcome for the workers, not only in terms of a redundancy package but also in terms of securing workers’ pension entitlements,” Mr Quigley said.
The company was founded by Aer Lingus 33 years ago, but in 1997 was taken over by the Lufthansa Technik Group.
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