November 22nd: Speaking this afternoon, Unite official Richie Browne said that unions in the ESB had to honour the overwhelming mandate from workers to use all means at the unions’ disposal to protect members’ pension entitlements. He also said that resolution of the ongoing dispute lies entirely in the hands of ESB management. Mr Browne was speaking after a meeting of the ESB Group of Unions held this morning to consider last week’s ballot results as well as the invitation from management to discuss the pensions issue.
“The cause of this dispute is very simple, and very simply resolved”, Mr Browne said.
“The ESB unilaterally introduced changes to its accounting procedures which show the workers’ Defined Benefit pension scheme as a Defined Contribution arrangement, thus camouflaging the apparent deficit and allowing the company to divest itself of responsibility for current and future deficits.
“This runs counter to a 2010 agreement between the ESB and its employees, represented by their unions, which clearly stipulated that the workers’ pension scheme will remain Defined Benefit. As far as the unions are concerned, that agreement remains in force.
“The unions have confirmed our availability to meet with the ESB’s CEO and full Executive Director Team on Thursday 28 November discuss this issue.
“All the ESB has to do to resolve this dispute is to honour its agreement with workers and ensure that its accounts include an accurate description of the pension scheme as Defined Benefit.
“The unions have an overwhelming mandate from their members to use all means at our disposal to protect their pensions, and we intend to honour that mandate. The ball is now firmly in the ESB’s court”, Mr Browne said.