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Wednesday 18 October 2017

ESB refuses to give details on perks of after-hours work

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

THE ESB has refused to give details of after-hours work schemes described by a senior union official as "gravy" dished out from on high.

A spokesman for the energy provider said the number of workers availing of the schemes referred to in a speech by the head of the Group of Unions, Brendan Ogle, was "negligible".

But he refused to give details of the work practices, except to say that special rates had been offered to network staff over the years when the volume of work rose dramatically.

Sources said the "lucrative" scheme was first offered when a network renewal programme was "in full flight".


It was offered to technicians as an incentive to work at weekends, while contractors were also taken on board to do part of the work.

The Irish Independent revealed at the weekend how Mr Ogle referred to his members at the semi-state company as "spoilt".

He was speaking in an address to an Eirigi meeting last May.

He also referred to work practices as government "gravy" dished out to buy industrial peace, including overtime, and the after-hours schemes.

Average pay at the ESB is €75,500 -- it rises to €94,300 when pension contributions are included.

"The after-hours work scheme forms part of our resourcing model that goes back some years, and was a response to a high volume of work," said an ESB spokesman.

"It's a negligible part of how we do our business and is paid to craft and general network staff, based on per unit costs.

"We won't be giving any more details as it's a matter for the business."


The spokesman said the semi-state company accepted it needed to reduce its payroll costs due to a "downturn in work volumes and procurement".

It is currently in talks with the Group of Unions to cut its payroll costs by 20pc, or €140m, over the next four years.

This will include a severance scheme that could cut the workforce of more than 7,000 by 1,000 over four to five years.

The ESB refused to comment on Mr Ogle's speech.

However, sources at the company yesterday spoke of anger among some workers about his comments.

Asked if it pays Mr Ogle's wages as secretary of the Group of Unions, the ESB replied: "That information is confidential."

Last night Mr Ogle said he would be making a statement in the next few days.

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