TDs blame low pay and ‘rubbish’ worker contracts for Dublin Airport queues

Dublin Airport is to publish its plan to manage huge demand and long queues for this June bank holiday weekend
TDs blame low pay and ‘rubbish’ worker contracts for Dublin Airport queues

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Leaders of opposition parties have criticised the management of Dublin Airport and blamed staff shortages on low pay and "rubbish" worker contracts.

More than 1,000 passengers missed their flights at the weekend after long queues formed for people to drop off bags and pass through security checks.

At Leaders’ Questions on Tuesday, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that Dublin Airport operator Daa had “grossly misjudged” the staff required to deal with tens of thousands of people travelling through the airport this summer.

“The Government’s failure to plan for the recovery of Ireland’s tourism sector has come home to roost in a very catastrophic fashion,” she said, raising issues with delays in passport applications, the high cost of hotel rooms, and long queues at the airport at the weekend.

People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett said that long queues at the airport were partly caused by “rubbishy flexible contracts” for Daa workers.

“They can’t even plan, they won’t even know what hours they will have or what income they will have a week later. Is it any wonder they have difficulty recruiting people?”

Mr Boyd Barrett said earlier on Tuesday: “Even though the Daa are now re-recruiting people, they’re recruiting them on these 20 hours guaranteed and 20 hours flexi-contracts, which means that on a week-to-week basis workers don’t know will they be working a 12-hour shift or a four-hour shift.

“They’re trying to increase and reduce staff numbers and it leads, inevitably, to the sort of chaos we’re seeing where those chronic understaffing of the airport because the Daa do not want to treat their security and other workers with the respect they deserve to give them a proper contract, decent pay and decent conditions.”

'Not fair'

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said that it was important for Irish citizens, and Ireland’s reputation as an island nation, that airports are “well resourced”.

“It’s just not fair. It’s not fair to the members of the public who rely on the services of the airport to go about their business, to travel abroad, to see loved ones, to return home after a trip to Ireland, or to go on business abroad.”

He acknowledged that the issue of long queues and staffing issues at Dublin Airport was first raised in March, when the Government intervened, but added that “for the great bulk of that period of time, the issues were addressed”.

 

“The recovery of aviation has exceeded the expectations of the majority of commentators and I think it has exceeded the Daa’s own expectations, to be frank.

“I think that is why in recent weeks they – as manifested and crystallised at the weekend in such a terrible way – did not have the level of staffing and resources that they actually needed.”

Mr McGrath told the Dáil that the Daa is in the middle of a “very significant recruitment campaign which has attracted a lot of interest”, with around 5,000 applications since the beginning of March.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik raised concerns about better work conditions, including low pay, for staff at Dublin Airport, which she said was a contributory factor behind long queues.

Ms Bacik also said that this issue was not “unpredictable”.

“Airlines sold flights, it was really predictable how many people would be flying out of Dublin Airport at the weekend just gone.”

Passenger plan

Following a meeting with Government on Tuesday, the DAA said it had outlined its plans on how to manage passenger queues at the airport over this June Bank Holiday weekend and during the summer, which will be communicated in the next 24 hours.

The numbers of passengers using Dublin Airport this coming bank holiday weekend is expected to increase significantly compared to previous weekends.

Daa chief executive Dalton Philips met Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State with responsibility for international transport Hildegarde Naughton and their officials on Tuesday morning.

The Daa said in a statement that it had sought to reassure ministers on Tuesday morning about their plan to increase the number of security lanes open at peak times.

The Daa also updated the ministers on how Dublin Airport intends to compensate more than 1,000 passengers who missed flights last weekend, and said they would “engage” on a daily basis with the Government.

Mr McGrath said the Government expressed a “deep frustration and unhappiness” about the scenes of long queues outside Dublin Airport’s terminals at the weekend at the meeting on Monday.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Daa was asked to put forward an operational plan “so that we do not see scenes like this again”.

He said that Ministers Ryan and Naughton had asked that the details of the Daa’s operational plan for the weekend would be discussed when the Daa appears before the Oireachtas Transport Committee tomorrow.

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