Clare Daly TD, Aer Lingus worker & SIPTU shop steward fully supports the statement by concerned SIPTU activists in relation to the outrageous attempt by Aer Lingus to sue SIPTU & Union Official Dermot O’Loughlin in particular.
The decision of Aer Lingus to seek damages against SIPTU and a named official, Dermot o Loughlin, represents a major threat to the trade unions. The Minister for Finance has a 25 percent stake in the company and the government should oppose this move.
Workers in Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority have a legitimate grievance concerning their pensions. They have a right to demand that their companies pay more into the pension fund. In a free and democratic society, they also have a right to take industrial action to pursue these demands.
The High Court’s injunction to prevent them striking shows that the legal rights granted to Irish workers are restricted. While corporations gain ever more freedom, workers face ever more legal obstacles.
The decision of Aer Lingus, however, to go one step further and sue SIPTU for damages for a strike that never took place represents a dangerous new development. The company is claiming that SIPTU and Dermot O Loughlin entered into a ‘conspiracy’ against them and that they breached a contract.
The targeting of Dermot O Loughlin is particularly ominous as it is an attempt personally intimidate a union officials and, by extension, elected shop stewards in the future.
Dermot O Loughlin was a representative of a group of workers and, by no stretch of the imagination, acted in an individual capacity. Summoning him personally for damages caused by talk of a strike is therefore patently absurd.
If taken to its logical conclusion, it would deprive worker representatives of the right to free speech as a company had only to claim that the mere threat of industrial action lost them business.
We call on all, trade unionists and all parties who claim to represent the interest of workers to come together to oppose these moves.
We declare that if any attempt is made to single out a particular union official or to inflict massive costs on a major union, we shall call for massive protests to show the depth of workers opposition to these legal manoeuvres to prevent people fighting for pension security.
Concerned SIPTU Shop Stewards.