Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Trade Unions - Addendum on SIPTU and Aer Lingus

Today's Irish Times (sub reqd) reports that SIPTU are threatening strike action if assurances on job security are not received in advance of the floatation of Aer Lingus. Tosh and piffle, again. The Trade Unions are holding the country to ransom again, arguing, in effect, that the labour laws are insufficient to protect the workers in Aer Lingus from the vagaries of the market. Let's extrapolate on this - if the market pushes Aer Lingus to operate in a particular way, in the interests of its shareholders (which it is obliged to do whether a semi-state or not), SIPTU want a guarantee that none of its workers will be affected. They want a guarantee of jobs for life for those that want them, and similarly argue that privatisation is a risk to the future of the soon-to-be-former state airline.

Try this. Given that the market is as the market is, the future of the state airline is threatened ONLY by the insistence of its staff that their jobs are irrevokable in any circumstances. The only way to avoid this is to guarantee state subvention as and when the airline requires it. Therefore, they are asking the tax payer to guarantee their jobs.

As a tax payer, I for one say no. I will not pay the wages of staff in an industry that is underperforming, that is not geared to handle market changes. I will not subvent the baggage handler who refuses to work overtime, the check-in clerk who consistently and dishonestly collects her wages despite chronic underperformance, in the full knowledge that her job can never be taken away.

People, staff, and companies need incentives upon which to operate. Indeed, countries need incentives too. Take away the incentives, or, more accurately, impose disincentives, and you destroy productivity, you destroy motivation to do better, and you fundamentally compromise what should be a key pillar of Irish industry. No, no, and no.

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