Statement from Joe Higgins
As venture capitalists seal their plan to smash 1,150 jobs at SR Technics by selling off the Landing Gear and Auxiliary Power Unit, the Irish Government and trade union leadership are in a state of pathetic paralysis. They simply stand by and allow the dictatorship of the market to lay waste to an invaluable industry and source of jobs. SR Technics workers should immediately occupy the plant at Dublin Airport, prevent the sale of machinery and demand renationalisation of what was a publicly owned enterprise until Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats privatised it.
With three years on the order books at the time of the closure announcement, with a higly skilled workforce and with those workers being brought into the heart of the management, all the jobs and 60 apprenticeships can be maintained. SR Technics can no longer wait for the Government or the irish Congress of Trade Unions to act, they have to seize the initiative now and force a solution on the Government through occupation.
A disaster foretold
Joe Higgins challenged Minister Mary O’Rourke on Team Aer Lingus privatisation in 1997 in Dáil Éireann.
Mr. Higgins (Dublin West): TEAM Aer Lingus workers were astounded yesterday afternoon when the management summoned them to a meeting where they were told that management were looking for agreement from them to sell off 100 per cent of TEAM Aer Lingus to a foreign concern, in other words, total privatisation, a total sell-out to a multinational company.
This privatisation proposal of TEAM Aer Lingus is utter treachery against a premier publicly-owned company of strategic importance, against a dedicated workforce whose skills and commitment have made this company a top quality aircraft maintenance firm. . . . .
.. . . . . Let us make no mistake, if they get away with it, whichever multinational giant comes in will have loyalty to one thing only, maximisation of their profit. If that means moving the business out of Dublin to the United States or somewhere else, that is what will be done, without thought for Irish jobs, Irish workers or north Dublin. When the Asian ‘flu now convulsing the sick tigers in the East spreads to the West, which it inevitably will even if it takes years, maximisation of profits and new strategies will mean that these foreign multinational corporations will abandon this country and Dublin workers…. . . . . .
I call on the communities in north Dublin not to let this happen because they will suffer badly if multinationals are allowed to swallow up this fine industry. Swords, Balbriggan, Rush, Lusk, and The Naul are quaint Irish placenames when it comes to the offices of big multinationals in the United States and elsewhere, but no pity for Irish communities will determine their decisions. . . . . . . . . . .The privatisation of TEAM is only the beginning and Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta will be next on the list. The aviation Bill takes on a very different complexion in this context in that the Minister will be able to privatise these companies without reference to the Dáil. We will not allow the Government to wash its hands of its responsibilities in this area. We must retain this fine company in publicly held ownership for the employees and communities who depend on it.’