Assurances given by Aer Lingus bosses on compulsory redundancies do not go far enough, opposition party TDs warned as the Dáil voted for its sell-off to a foreign group.
Labour’s Micheal McNamara was the only Coalition TD to rebel against the move, citing fears over whether Heathrow routes to Shannon and Cork would be maintained in the medium term. As a result, he faces expulsion from the Labour Party.
Mr McNamara said he could not “take a gamble” on the assurances given over the safeguarding of Heathrow slots in a proposed sale to British Airways owner IAG.
Following two days of often angry debate, the Dáil gave its backing to the sale of Aer Lingus by 74 votes to 51.
The Government rejected Fianna Fáil demands to sit during next week’s recess to examine the proposals in more detail and avoid what the opposition party called another Irish Water situation.
Aer Lingus management said it would not introduce compulsory redundancies nor outsource employment if it receives the flexibility and changes it requires from the workforce.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil that “assurances are not guarantees”.
Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh moved to quell concern after an internal report identified €60m in savings at the airline.
He said the company would engage with unions to register employment agreement across the airline.
In a letter to Ged Nash, the business minister, Mr Kavanagh said Aer Lingus will not “utilise compulsory redundancy of a movement to non-direct employment in a scenario where the changes and efficiencies that the business requires can be achieved through flexibility and mobility internally, delivered by the staff and their trade union representatives. We would now envisage engaging with the unions in this regard”.
Independent TD and former Aer Lingus employee Clare Daly condemned the deal as a bad one for workers.
Tánaiste Joan Burton defended the deal as good for Aer Lingus workers and the country as a whole.