Aer Lingus Motion passed at Labour Party Conference

2 March 2015

Aer Lingus

Yesterday, delegates at the Labour Party Conference in Killarney voted overwhelmingly against the state selling its 25.1% stake in Aer Lingus to the terms of the recent bid from IAG. The Motion was moved by myself and signed by seven fellow Labour TDs.

Our Motion called on the Government to reject the IAG bid for the State's shares in Aer Lingus and any further takeover bid that does not clearly address the following:

1. The serious concerns that the bid fails to reflect the true value of Aer Lingus and, therefore, an independent valuation of the assets of the company is required. in particular, a valuation of the 23 Heathrow slots

2. The need for a firm commitment in the form of Registered Employment Agreements precluding the outsourcing of jobs and/or compulsory redundancies to protect Aer Lingus workers' employment and conditions of employment.

3. Meaningful, reliable and long term guarantees around connectivity and the "Heathrow Slots"

4. The need to articulate a plan which would promote Shannon and Cork airports, taking into account their distinct business models and impact on their individual reasons.

My Speech in moving and supporting the Motion is copied below

Speech by Brendan Ryan TD
2 March 2015

Labour Party Conference, Killarney

Takeover Bid for Aer Lingus

This motion welcomes the Government’s decision to reject the terms of the current bid from International Airlines Group for Aer Lingus.

This is a good Motion and I hope that it will be passed.

It is a positive Motion and I believe it is a Motion which puts the interest of the Irish people, the Irish economy and the workers at Aer Lingus at its heart.

Labour has always sought to act in the best interests of Aer Lingus, a company which has done so much to spread a positive, vibrant and successful image for Ireland, since it was formed in the 1930s.

It has seldom been easy for the company in the past 20 years especially and multiple restructuring plans have impacted on the workers.
Labour opposed the privatisation of Aer Lingus in 2006.
Fianna Fáil and the PDs wanted the privatisation and pushed it through.

We oppose the recent deal not out of political self-interest, but because it was a bad deal.
There has been intense pressure from the business community to accept this initial deal.

The Labour Party has never blindly rolled the red carpet out for corporate interests.

That has been the hallmark of other political parties but not for us.

We have not heard any valid reason for example, why IAG cannot purchase the other 75% of the company and work in partnership with the Irish State.

As Aer Lingus has grown to deliver record passenger numbers and healthy profit margins, they have done so with the Irish Government as a 25% shareholder and able company partner.

It must be noted that this Motion does recommend criteria for any future bid consideration. I know some people in this room will feel that this motion does not go far enough.

We have thought long and hard about that.

Being a stakeholder in Aer Lingus and guardian of the people’s share, this Government needs to act in the best interests of the State.

This is a dynamic process.
Thursday’s statement from the Central Representative Council of Unions in the Airport is stronger and calls on government not to sell the 25.1% stake in any circumstance.
But parallel to that Unions are engaging in talks with the companies and Willie Walsh.

They are reported to be talking about getting guarantees. The type of guarantees that we are seeking in this motion!!!!
It sets a high bar

However, we feel that any motion passed at this conference must reflect the reality of what is going on.

The reality is that Aer Lingus was floated and privatised in 2006.

The Labour Party fought to ensure that a 25.1% stake would remain with the people and that any divestment of this stake could only be passed by a majority in the Dáil.

We need to judge every single deal on its merits. We judged this deal and we opposed it.
There may be a deal at some point in the future which meets all our concerns and copperfastens our connectivity and the terms and conditions of workers employment.

We would need to judge such a deal on its merits, should it be made.
The Labour Party are not averse to change.
We are not averse to healthy commercial enterprise. In fact we encourage it.
But we do have our concerns and we want to see those concerns addressed.
We will not risk the future of Aer Lingus and its workers and we will not apologise for that.
I recommend this Motion to Conference and hope that it is passed.
Thank you