RUNWAY repairs are getting under way at Cork Airport from today.
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath said not only is the Government committed to the funding of €10m for the runway reconstruction and outside electrical upgrade, but also in providing support for the airport.
“Government absolutely recognises the centrality of international connectivity and for us, in Cork, it is so vital and so we will stay the course because we want to see a recovery in aviation. It’s so important for us economically for tourism and of course given our really strong [Foreign Direct Investment] base in Cork so we continue to work with the team there,” he said, speaking at Cork Chamber’s Business Breakfast Live event last week.
He said it is “good to see the works finally get under way with the main reconstruction contract” and that he looks forward to seeing the airport reopened in November.
“I think it will see a rapid rebound and recovery once it reopens in November,” he said.
Meanwhile, there have been calls for the Government to intervene as staff employed by a firm operating at the airport face layoffs for the duration of airport’s runway repairs.
Siptu aviation officer Tony Carroll told The Echo that staff employed by facilities company OCS are facing layoffs. Other firms at the airport confirmed they would keep staff on company books for the duration of the closure.
“Obviously we’re disappointed that OCS are laying staff off. They’re probably the only employer who is laying off staff on social welfare. All the others are retaining their staff on the books,” said Mr Carroll.
He said staff are feeling “dejected”, adding that the matter has now been referred to the Workplace Relations Commission.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire called on the transport minister and Tánaiste as minister for jobs to urgently intervene.
“The workers I have spoken with are extremely distressed at the way they have been treated.”
Solidarity TD Mick Barry described the decision to lay off staff as “unjust”.
“When Aer Lingus and Swissport announced that they would keep workers on the books I had hoped that other airport employers would follow suit.
“So, it is disappointing to see OCS buck the trend, refusing to listen to the concerns of its workforce and opting for layoffs.
“I don’t think OCS workers will take this lying down and I will support them in any action they deem necessary to take to challenge this unjust decision.”
OCS was contacted for comment.