Monday 18 December 2017

Unions 'not convinced' on IAG takeover

Aer Lingus unions remain "unconvinced" about a possible takeover by IAG and still don't have enough answers regarding Willie Walsh's €1.4bn plan to buy the airline.

About 20 union officials yesterday met Mr Walsh, who is chief executive of IAG, and Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh, as they sought more assurances on jobs and expansion if the Irish airline is bought.

IAG, which owns British Airways as well as Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling, wants to buy Aer Lingus in an effort to grow its transatlantic business.

"I think the bottom line from today's meeting is that the unions came to this meeting today unconvinced that the Government and other shareholders should accept the bid and we remain in that position," said Liam Berney, an industrial officer with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

He warned that if the Government decided to sell its Aer Lingus stake without having the support of unions, there would be "consequences".

"The Government, if they make a decision to proceed without the issues of the workers being addressed, well they can obviously do so but I think that would have some consequences," he said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting at Dublin Airport, Mr Berney said that some questions weren't dealt with satisfactorily.

"I think there's a lot of questions that we raised that were unanswered," he said.

But Mr Walsh described the meeting as constructive and said he'd be willing to meet the unions again if they requested it.

"It's always good to talk," he said. "I just reinforced the message that this is positive. We want to acquire Aer Lingus because we want to grow Aer Lingus."

He added: "You'll always have a bit of rhetoric in meetings like that, but when I spoke about growth and what it is we wanted to do, nobody said to me that they don't accept that."

Later yesterday, ICTU insisted that IAG hasn't done enough to convince it of the merits of a takeover. It said "critical issues" related to job security, staff terms and conditions and connectivity remain unanswered.


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