May 28th: NIE management have announced that they are seeking to reduce overall employment in their workforce of more than 1,300 by 10% through offering workers a voluntary redundancy package.
Unite the union, which organises the majority of NIE’s workforce, have condemned the move as one driven by the need to protect the company’s shareholders’ profits.
Regional Secretary of Unite, Jimmy Kelly, said,
“These job-losses are being sold as necessary to reduce the cost of electricity to consumers. The reality is that electricity costs in Northern Ireland remain higher than comparator regions because of the botched, ideologically-driven privatisation of the electricity system by the Tories in the early 1990s.
“The cost savings being sought by the Electricity Regulator are to be delivered through large-scale redundancies as opposed to reducing the dividends paid to shareholders.
“While Unite recognises that management is seeking to achieve these job-losses through voluntary redundancy, this move will undermine the quality of service to consumers and will have a knock-on impact on demand across the wider Northern Ireland economy.
“Instead of seeking to safeguard profits through reducing employment, Unite demands that the Northern Ireland assembly take NIE into public ownership.
“Such a move would open the door to a large-scale investment programme to bring our electrical infrastructure into the Twenty-first Century and enable the system to accommodate renewable energy micro-generation. Such an investment would stimulate the local economy and reduce energy costs to consumers and businesses into the long-term,” Jimmy concluded.