SIPTU representatives at the Dublin Airport Authority have withdrawn from a joint staff/management forum amid fears that the company will pay a dividend to the State before restoring pay cuts imposed during the recession.
Last week, the Sunday Independent reported that the daa would resume paying a dividend to the State for the first time since dividends were suspended in 2009 due to the economic crisis.
The following day, SIPTU Organiser Greg Ennis wrote to daa Chief Executive Kevin Toland warning that they would not tolerate the payment of a dividend while pay cuts ranging from 4.25 - 9% were not restored.
He noted that the paycuts, as well as other cost savings imposed, meant that workers were subsidising the daa which has returned to profitability, and the State, which has seen a recovery in its finances.
He warns that current discussions for a "New Model Agreement" at the company could collapse if SIPTU does not receive assurances that no state dividend will be paid before temporary pay cuts are restored.
In a second letter this evening, Mr. Ennis, as well as representatives of IMPACT and Mandate, have notified the Chief Executive that their continued participation in the joint forum has become untenable because of the concerns about the dividend issue.
The three union officials say this will remain their position until they receive assurances that such State dividends will not be paid in advance of his confirmation of the full restoration of the temporary pay cuts contained in the 2010 Cost Recovery Programme Agreement.
They note that staff are extremely annoyed that the potential for a state dividend payment by the daa has not been contradicted or denied to date.
The daa said it was disappointed at the union move and hopes the joint forum will resume as soon as possible.
It said the forum was to look at how the daa can manage its business and what they can do differently to meet staff and customer needs in a fast-paced changing environment.
However, yesterday, daa sources stressed that while the payment of a dividend would be a matter for the board, nothing had yet been decided on that issue.
They added that dividends are normal in a company, and that the state as a shareholder has every right to expect a dividend.
They said the company paid a state dividend for many years, though an exemption was put in place when passenger numbers fell by five million between 2008 and 2010 during the economic downturn.
The sources said passenger numbers have returned to strong growth much quicker than was expected, with further growth expected this year.
They also said Mr Toland has confirmed there is an agreement with the relevant trade unions on what will trigger restoration - and the company will honour its agreement in relation to that.