Friday 20 October 2017

More than 700 ESB staff seek redundancy package

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

A VOLUNTARY redundancy scheme aimed at shedding 700 jobs at the ESB is over-subscribed.

The package on offer to the 6,000-strong workforce is not as generous as in the past and it was feared management would struggle to achieve the 700 redundancies it wants.

However, Brendan Ogle, head of the ESB Group of Unions, said there had been a "significant level of interest" in the deal. He understood it had been over-subscribed.

But he said this came with a "health warning" as there may be workers who had applied for the scheme ahead of the May 31 deadline in order to buy more time to weigh up their options.

Management will now go through the applications and decide which workers they want to let go. This will take until the end of next month.

Workers who are offered voluntary redundancy at that point can then decide whether they will take it.

Staff who accept the deal must leave the semi-state before the end of the year and cannot be re-employed by the ESB Group.

"I believe it's over-subscribed in all of the business units," said Mr Ogle.

"It's voluntary severance and voluntary on both sides. The company is not obliged to offer it to any particular person.''

The severance scheme is the centrepiece of the ESB's plan to cut payroll costs by €140m over the next four years. Besides the 700 voluntary redundancies, another 300 retiring workers will not be replaced at the company.

A spokeswoman for the ESB refused to say exactly how many redundancy applications it had received, but there was a "good level of interest".

The company will not be revealing details of the take-up until later in the summer.

There have been concerns among staff that the scheme is not as generous as earlier deals.

Severance

Under a previous scheme, workers could opt for half-pay for around 10 years until they drew down their pensions.

This time, those aged between 50 and 60 will have their pension benefits, including lump sums, deferred until they reach 65 -- although they will get a severance payment upfront. This payment is on a sliding scale, depending on length of service.

Meanwhile, those workers who remain with the company will be subject to a cost-cutting plan which will see a reduction in overtime, mileage and subsistence payments. However, their pay -- which averages around €70,000 a year -- will be protected.

They will continue to get paid increments under the proposals, although there will be a pay freeze and a cap on profit-sharing payments.

Irish Independent

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