Unite urges Bruton to convene urgent stakeholder meeting to progress Bord na Mona – ESB proposals
October 24th: Responding to the projected loss of between 380 and 430 Bord na Mona jobs starting in the coming months, with further job losses anticipated in the medium term, trade union Unite today accused the Government of sleepwalking into a crisis which will devastate Midlands communities. Regional Officer Colm Quinlan called on Minister Richard Bruton to convene an urgent meeting with Bord na Mona, the ESB and other stakeholders in order to progress the proposed agreement between the two companies which would see Bord na Mona supplying peat to two ESB peat-fired power stations in Offaly and Longford. Mr Quinlan also warned that industrial action early next year was a real possibility if progress is not made.
Commenting following today’s Bord na Mona board meeting which finalised the redundancy plans, Unite Regional Officer Colm Quinlan pointed out that the redundancies projected today far exceed those provided for in the agreement reached between the Group of Unions and Bord na Mona in early 2016:
“In 2016, following intensive engagement at the WRC and Labour Court, a comprehensive cost-cutting agreement was reached which is due for renewal next year. This agreement was predicated on a phased reduction of peat production up until 2030, which would have required minimum redundancies with job reductions largely achieved as a result of natural attrition, and provided for some new jobs to be created during that period.
“However, developments since then mean that the reduction in peat production is now to be accelerated, and today’s board meeting proposes redundancies as early as the beginning of 2019. Even that plan, however, is predicated on the finalisation of an agreement for Bord na Mona to supply peat to two ESB power stations in Offaly and Longford. Yet negotiations on this have dragged on for two years and the ESB has not yet finalised planning permission for the stations.
“In the event that this agreement is not progressed, and the planning process is not activated as a priority, the level and pace of job losses could significantly exceed those announced today.
“Unite is calling on Minister Richard Bruton to convene an urgent meeting of all stakeholders to progress the agreement between Bord na Mona and the ESB. At the same time, the Government needs to lobby at European level to ensure that workers and their communities can access an EU-wide ‘Just Transition’ fund.
“While Unite and the Bord na Mona Group of Unions will be fully engaged in the consultation process, and will make every effort to work with all stakeholders to preserve the maximum number of jobs, if we do not receive progress reports and assurances in the short term, a major industrial dispute early next year would become inevitable. We are determined to ensure that Bord na Mona, its workers and the communities they sustain do not pay the price for decarbonisation”, Mr Quinlan concluded.