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Shannon Group dispute Deputy Wynne’s remarks

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*Photograph: Martin Connolly

Clare TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) has said Shannon Airport staff have been given a one week window to sign their redundancy offers.

Redundancy offers were issued to staff at Shannon Airport on Friday August 21st. In July, workers rejected plans by management to seek voluntary redundancies from its 230 staff and cut pay by 20 per cent until 2023.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, Deputy Wynne criticised a “lack of engagement” with staff and said workers were given a period of one week to sign on the dotted line if they wished to accept a redundancy. Trade unions have insisted that any severance package would have to be in line with the semi-state aviation package available in the DAA and that they would not agree to the pay cut which is due to come into effect on Monday.

She commented, “The severance package on offer within the SAA is nowhere near as generous as the one currently on offer in the DAA with the staff in Shannon feeling left behind in comparison to the package being offered to former colleagues in both the DAA and also of their colleagues who were offered a better deal just last year by the SAA”.

“All this is happening at the same time that the Minister Eamon Ryan and his officials are carrying out an internal review of the management/operational structures of the Shannon Group. I really feel this is not fair on the staff at the Airport, the time constraint alone does not allow the staff to fully weight up all their options on what will be a life changing decision. I am calling on Minister Ryan to instruct the SAA to extend the deadline beyond Friday to allow for meaningful engagement between his Department, the unions and the staff at the Airport,” the Kilrush Deputy added.

CEO of Shannon Group, Mary Considine disputed remarks from the Sinn Féin representative. “In early July we presented a range of available options to staff, among these career breaks, reduced working hours, short time working, temporary pay cuts and a voluntary severance scheme (VSS). The terms of the VSS were clearly communicated at that time. We communicated these measures to unions and since then have put an extensive programme in place to ensure that staff were fully briefed regarding the necessity for this intervention”.

Considine said that there had been ongoing engagement over the past seven weeks including written communication with staff and unions, full briefing of staff across two separate days in socially distanced town-hall meetings at the airport, telephone conversations and board meetings and calls.

She added, “Our HR team has also worked exhaustively with the very large number of staff that expressed interest in the scheme to set out the specific individual outcomes for them. During that period, we sought to meet with trade unions on the VSS, but the offers were declined, the latest of these was last week. The measures we have had to put in place are certainly not what we envisaged as we set out on what would otherwise have been a year of growth at Shannon”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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