Friday 24 November 2017

Bord na Móna says plant operating 'at significant loss'

Edenderry power station
Edenderry power station

Gordon Deegan

THE Edenderry power plant is operating at a significant loss, Bord na Móna has revealed.

The station supplies around 2.5pc of the country's national energy requirements but workers at the station have not had a pay increase there since 2007 - one year after Bord na Móna purchased the station.

One hundred and 80 workers are employed at the Co Offaly plant which is now co-fired with a mixture of peat and carbon neutral biomass.

The use of biomass as a co-fuel began in 2008, and has increased steadily year-on-year.

However, Siptu is seeking a 3.5pc pay increase retrospective to April 2014 and the restoration of annual pay reviews and collective bargaining rights.

In its argument before the Labour Court, Siptu is claiming that, prior to the Bord na Móna acquisition, contracts of employment provided for annual pay reviews to occur at the end of each financial year.

However, in response, Bord na Móna state that since December 22 last, there is uncertainty and volatility in the market and that this is at an extremely challenging time when fossil fuel prices are at unprecedented low levels.

The firm said the plant is now running at a significant loss but that the company is prepared to re-engage under the terms of the Company/Union Agreement on receipt of a response confirming the unions' full commitment and adherence to the Agreement.

The most recent accounts for the Bord na Móna group show that it remains very profitable, recording operating profits of €52.4m in the 12 months to the end of March last.

In its determination, the Court noted that in an effort to bring a resolution to the matters in dispute including the impasse over the interpretation of the 2013 agreement between the two sides, the Workplace Relations Commission issued a set of proposals to the parties dated October 30th last.

The Labour Court state that having considered submissions, the Court feels that both parties should seek to return to the Workplace Relations Commission as a matter of urgency.

The Labour Court said there should be no preconditions set to those discussions.

In the High Court last year, An Taisce secured a court order overturning a planning permission for the continued operation of the power plant.

A stay on the ruling continues until April and a further stay may be sought.

Irish Independent

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