Swiss-based aircraft maintenance company SR Technics has been accused of "ruthlessly shafting" its Irish employees after it recently opened a new Malta base –just months after sacking more than 1,100 workers at Dublin airport.
The company, which denies that its decision to close its Dublin facility was taken so that it could avail of cheaper Maltese labour, announced details of its plans to hire up to 350 people at its new base at Luqa airport last month. It has received assistance from the Maltese enterprise board and Malta Industrial Parks in order to facilitate the move, which includes a contract to service and maintain some 157 aircraft operated by the low-cost easyJet airline.
Labour party transport spokesman Tommy Brou-ghan, who is a TD for Dublin North East, said he had "no doubt" the move to Malta was linked to SR Technics' decision to pull out of Ireland.
"We were ruthlessly shafted by the company," he said. "I don't think Brian Cowen or Mary Coughlan even appreciate how fundamentally important to the Dublin northside SR Technics was," he said.
"I think the government should have been much more proactive… I am also extremely concerned about the fact there are ongoing issues in relation to the pension fund for its Irish workers. A lot of them have paid into its fund and are wondering if it will be there for them when they get to 65."
Broughan's comments were echoed by Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly, who claimed the government had been found to be "asleep on the job" in relation to SR Technics.
"A very viable and important business of international repute, based in Dublin, is gone. SR Technics' parent company clearly had no interest in keeping it going."
However, a spokesman for SR Technics said its decision to establish a maintenance facility in Malta was part of its recently developed "long-term growth strategy" and independent of its decision to close its operations at Dublin airport.
"While it is extremely regrettable... the Dublin operation was no longer viable."