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ESB workers set to strike over sell-off plans

ESB workers are to vote on taking strike action, following the government's decision to sell a minority stake in the company.

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland this morning, Jimmy Kelly of the trade union UNITE said his union did not accept that the ESB had to be sold off.

"We have been balloting our workers for industrial action. I think they're up for the fight that is needed over this."

The Government announced yesterday that it would sell a minority stake in the ESB but would not be breaking up the semi-state energy company.

No decision has been taken yet on the percentage of the company to be sold and there is no indication yet of how much will be raised.

Minister for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte would not be drawn on how much a part-sale of the company would raise.

“We are not going to put it up on eBay next week,” he said.

“There is a process that has to be completed,” he said last night.

The Government needs to raise billions of euro from the sale of state assets under the terms of the EU/IMF €67.5bn bailout loans.

Other semi-state firms that could be sold off include the Government’s stake in Aer Lingus and a part-sale of Bord Gais.

The Government wants to put money it raises from selling state assets into Fine Gael’s New Era – a new semi-state designed to invest in infrastructure like broadband to create jobs.

However, the coalition is also under pressure from the EU/IMF to indicate how it plans to raise the funds from privatisations agreed the EU.