Wednesday 16 October 2019

Bord na Móna jobs 'under threat' as boss warns unions of 'dire future'

'Secretary of the group of unions, Willie Noone, said that Mr Donnellan said 'a sense of urgency' must be injected to move the company onto a sounder financial footing as it transitions from peat production to renewable energy'. Photo: Nik Merkulov
'Secretary of the group of unions, Willie Noone, said that Mr Donnellan said 'a sense of urgency' must be injected to move the company onto a sounder financial footing as it transitions from peat production to renewable energy'. Photo: Nik Merkulov

Anne-Marie Walsh

All Bord na Móna jobs are under threat, according to the country's largest union.

Siptu said CEO Tom Donnellan has warned that redundancies may be on the way after claiming the potential outlook for the company could be "dire".

Secretary of the group of unions, Willie Noone, said that Mr Donnellan said "a sense of urgency" must be injected to move the company onto a sounder financial footing as it transitions from peat production to renewable energy.

He said the CEO said that if nothing changes within the next month, a "seismic decision" will have to be made and it will not be good news for workers, at a meeting last Thursday.

Bord na Móna spokesperson Pat Sammon said the company is currently awaiting planning decisions in relation to the future plans for ESB's West Offaly and Lough Ree power stations.

He said both stations are supplied with peat by Bord na Móna.

The union's warning comes after the midlands was dealt a devastating blow last year when Bord na Móna announced 430 voluntary redundancies.

Company sources denied that all 1,600 jobs are at risk although a few hundred staff who supply peat to the ESB power stations in West Offaly and Lough Ree may be affected.

However, they may be redeployed to other areas of the business.

"For the past number of weeks, the group of unions have been working tirelessly to protect the conditions and jobs of almost 2,000 workers who currently work in the company and to ensure that those who wish to voluntarily leave can do so with dignity and respect," said Mr Noone.

He said the union group insisted that recent threats to make workers compulsorily redundant will not be accepted.

However, he said the company said it is now in a financially precarious position and will have no option but to take unpopular and decisive action, probably within a month.

"The group of unions is actively re-engaging with politicians of all parties as it is clear that a resolution to the crisis is in the political arena," he said.

He said if it is not resolved, it will have devastating consequences for thousands of current employees as well as former workers who depend on Bord na Móna pensions.

Mr Noone said the government must urgently establish a promised national 'just transition' task-force to avoid catastrophic job losses.

Labour TD for Longford-Westmeath, Willie Penrose said every effort must be made to avoid job cuts.

"These issues have been foreshadowed and there is an onus on Government to protect workers in the industry as we move away from a dependency on traditional fossil fuels," he said.

Irish Independent

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