Thursday 20 July 2017

Ogle puts ambition first, claims union boss in ESB row

TEEU furious as split meeting delayed

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

Brendan Ogle, the head of the group representing ESB workers, has been accused of putting his ambition first as he fights to save his job.

The Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) plans to pull out of the five-union body representing the workforce of over 7,000.

But in a letter to the union this week, seen by the Irish Independent, Mr Ogle, group secretary to the five unions, showed his determination to hang onto his position and keep the fractured group together.

The TEEU decided to take drastic action following a controversial speech by Mr Ogle at a conference by left-wing group Eirigi.

It asked him to call a meeting of the unions tomorrow to announce its decision to leave, which could throw the group into chaos.

In his response, Mr Ogle refuses to hold the meeting until an inquiry ordered by the group is over and accuses the TEEU of deciding a "pre-ordained outcome".

Sources said the investigation had not yet begun because of internal disputes over who should be appointed to conduct the independent probe.

In the address that angered workers at the state-owned energy supplier, Mr Ogle described his members as "spoilt".

He said they had received "gravy" from the Government in the form of an after-hours work scheme during the speech, delivered beside "Britain out of Ireland" posters last May.

The TEEU wrote to Mr Ogle last week to say it had passed a motion to seek a meeting to suspend its membership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions-ESB union group.

It said its members were "not prepared to participate in the group in its current form".

In his letter to TEEU general secretary Eamon Devoy, Mr Ogle says he is only prepared to schedule a meeting after the investigation.

He said calling such a meeting where the matters being probed would be discussed would "clearly prejudice the investigation".

In an angry response to Mr Ogle's letter, TEEU leader Eamon Devoy says he noted his "refusal" to hold a meeting "as if it is in your gift to do so".

"In the circumstances, I respectfully request that you cease confusing your ambition with your ability and carry out the wishes of the constituent unions of the group."

Sources said the TEEU was still set to split from the group but the implications for the future of the ESB unions were unlikely to be clear until next week.

The group of unions is due to meet management on Tuesday for talks on measures to reduce payroll costs by €140m.

It is unclear whether the union group and TEEU will meet management as two separate bodies or whether the energy supplier will accept this arrangement.

With an estimated 2,000 members, the TEEU is the second largest union at the ESB after UNITE.

Government to sell off stake in ESB, page 21

Irish Independent

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