Strategy for Aviation Sector urgently needed with no sign of airport testing

Duncan Smith TD
25 September 2020
  • Workers bearing the brunt of lack of clear government policy.
  • Green List not working and still no common EU approach.
  • Still no sign of airport testing nearly two months on from announcement.

With no clear government strategy on aviation or airport testing for those arriving into Ireland, workers in airlines and in airport services are bearing the brunt of uncertainty said Labour transport spokesperson Duncan Smith who visited workers on the Estee Lauder strike this morning, and has been working closely with Aer Lingus workers on pay and social welfare issues.

Deputy Smith said:

“For some months I have sought a government strategy on aviation that would put a regime in place that would allow the industry to reopen safely within public health guidelines. What is clear now is that the Green List system has failed and we still have no clarity on airport testing despite previous government commitments. In all this workers are bearing the brunt.

“This morning I joined the Estee Lauder picket at Dublin Airport in support of Mandate members who are trying to stop compulsory redundancies in a large and profitable international company. I and many others have also sought to resolve an infuriating social welfare issue for workers in Aer Lingus. It has left those workers getting low levels of pay, even if they are now getting their full entitlement to short-time work or jobseeker’s allowance.

“We still do not have a testing and tracing regime in place. When the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, appeared before the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response at the start of August he said the Government was working on such a system. That was almost two months ago now and there seems to have been no progress on that. Last week, the Tánaiste stated on national media that we needed to get to a place where we have pre-departure screening and testing. He indicated, however, that this was a long way away.

“Imagine a worker in the aviation industry, either in an airline or in support working in catering or cleaning and servicing our airlines, hearing that months into this pandemic, after the industry was shut down so quickly and understandably – the workers understood the reason early on – there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

“The Green List now has only four countries on it, one of which doesn’t have an airport. We are still waiting on an common European approach. Meanwhile, Germany has put Ireland on its red list. If any of us was to fly into any airport in Germany, not just in the capital airport, we would be able to avail of a free Covid test. Germany has that in place right now. We do not even have anything close to that in place in the airport in our capital, never mind in our regional airports which are struggling as well during this pandemic.

“The approach of the government appears to be a hands off approach to the entire aviation sector, and the thousands of workers in retail and services that also work in our airports. That stratregy can’t continue any longer. We need certainty for workers, and for the industry. If other countries can arrange airport testing, we really need answers on why Ireland cannot.”

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