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Sunday 26 February 2017

Bord Gais staff get up to €400 off bills every year

Ailish O'Hora

Ailish O'Hora

HUNDREDS of Bord Gais staff get reductions worth up to €388 every year on their gas bills, the Irish Independent has learned.

Details of the little-known perk emerged after a row broke out earlier this week over ESB workers getting reductions of up to 55pc on their electricity bills.

The revelations come as both companies continue to cut off supplies to cash-strapped customers.

More than 900 current and retired staff at Bord Gais are entitled to the discounts which involve a cheaper deal on the 4.3c standard unit gas rate and a cut in charges.

A spokesman for Bord Gais confirmed yesterday that no standard percentage discount applied for usage in the case of Bord Gais staff and the discount depended on what tariff the worker was on.

He added the cuts were introduced 10 years ago as part of a 'change in work practices' deal.

The deal was done between Bord Gais management and unions following a Labour Relations Commission recommendation that a staff rate be introduced.

Earlier this week a row broke out in the Dail when Fine Gael energy spokesman Leo Varadkar asked Energy Minister Eamon Ryan to explain why ESB workers were getting staff discounts worth up to €470 per month.

Perk

The perk applies to all 5,800 ESB workers and some retired staff. The deal entitles them to 55pc off a maximum of 1,000 units of electricity per bi-monthly bill and has been in place since 1981.

While discounts are common for semi-state company staff, news of the ESB deal will be a public relations headache for the company which has already come under fire for the high salaries its top executives are paid.

ESB boss Padraig McManus is the highest paid chief of a state-owned company and has an annual remuneration package of €750,000. The Government is reviewing salaries of the semi-state bosses.

The 3.5pc salary increase paid to 4,000 ESB staff in the past year also caused uproar.

News of the schemes comes as the ESB disconnects 8,000 to 9,000 homes per annum while Bord Gais has disconnected about 4,000 customers so far this year.

Mr Varadkar told the Irish Independent yesterday that staff at both companies should be aware of the cuts being applied across businesses given the economic situation - especially at a time when vulnerable energy customers are losing services.

"I certainly do not begrudge staff their benefit but everyone else is taking big pay cuts and losing perks and benefits they used to enjoy," he said.

Minister Ryan said yesterday the issue of the discounts was a matter for the management of Bord Gais and the ESB.

Irish Independent

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