Brendan Ogle, the controversial and outspoken leader of the ESB group of unions, is to resign.
In a statement this afternoon, Mr Ogle signalled his intention to step down in the coming days.
The news will come as shock to members of the ESB unions, coming as it does just weeks after Mr Ogle successfully led a campaign to have their main pension scheme reclassified and treated as a defined benefit scheme.
But the campaign is said to have taken its toll on the Co Louth native, who was subject to much adverse media comment over the threat of power cuts in the run up to Christmas.
Mr Ogle and his family were also the subject to a death threat at the height of the campaign, which was reported to gardai.
The union boss said at the time that he “never once” considered quitting.
However, in a statement today he said: “I confirm that I will be stepping down as Secretary of the ESB Group of Unions in the coming days.”
Mr Ogle said the decision was his own.
“This decision, which was initiated by me and is by mutual consent, ends my engagement in ESB and my representative role on behalf of the workers in that company,” he said.
“I have been representing ESB workers for 10 years and, in that context, the recent successful campaign to have the ESB pension scheme properly reclassified and treated as a defined benefit pension scheme allows me to do so at an appropriate time.”
Mr Ogle did not say what his future plans were.
Prior to heading up the ESB group of unions, Mr Ogle led the Irish Locomotive Drivers Association, which was involved in a three month long dispute in the summer of 2000 which crippled some of the country's main rail routes.
More recently he courted controversy after being filmed at a meeting describing ESB workers as “spoilt” and saying they had benefited from plenty of "gravy" during the boom.
He has frequently criticised news organisations over their coverage of industrial relations issues and used his final statement as head of the group of unions to take another swipe at the media.
“It is ironic, but not surprising, that in recent weeks the very ESB workers who had been viciously attacked by some in the media for having the temerity to protect their pension rights, have demonstrated the very best of public service as they have battled extreme weather to protect electricity customers safety and supply,” he said.
“By their actions, in such dangerous circumstances over the past two months, they have silently answered the unwarranted attacks of their critics.
“Typically for ESB workers they have done so with a professionalism and speed unparalleled in any other utility in the state, or indeed on these islands.
“I thank the unionised membership in ESB for their strong support and, in many cases friendship, over the past ten years and I wish them well. I know, as they do, that they are well equipped and able to defend themselves against any further unwarranted attacks on their terms and conditions of employment.”