Saturday 19 October 2019

Bord na Móna unions threaten strikes as 148 workers laid off


Agreement: Willie Noone, union secretary, voiced members' outrage. Photo: Arthur Carron/Collins
Agreement: Willie Noone, union secretary, voiced members' outrage. Photo: Arthur Carron/Collins

Ralph Riegel

Bord na Móna faces the threat of industrial action after trade unions expressed outrage at the decision to suspend all peat operations at its Mountdillon works and place 148 full and part-time workers on unpaid leave.

The move was confirmed by the State peat firm as a direct fall-out from the ongoing suspension of operations at the ESB's Lough Ree power plant.

However, the Bord na Móna (BNM) group of trade unions expressed shock at the move and claimed it breached existing agreements.

BNM group of unions secretary Willie Noone warned industrial action would now be considered to defend the plant workers and their jobs.

"The BNM unions is shocked that this semi-state company has informed staff that they are to be laid off indefinitely with only seven days' notice," he said.

"The unions have a collective agreement that is only five weeks old, which clearly states that an engagement must take place with representatives prior to any job losses occurring.

"This news will send shock waves throughout Bord na Móna and industrial action may be the only avenue open to union representatives in order to defend our members' conditions of employment as the company is not adhering to collective agreements."

However, Bord na Móna warned it had no choice given the fall-out from the ESB decision to take its peat-fired power station at Lanesboro in Longford offline since July 5 because of difficulties with its environmental licence obligations.

The €200m plant, which was commissioned only 15 years ago, produces 100MW of power.

Bord na Móna warned that, with no demand for its peat production from the Lough Ree facility, it had to take action over its Mountdillon works.

"This unforeseen event has a direct and adverse impact for Bord na Móna Energy operations at Mountdillon including peat supply, bog operations and maintenance," a company spokesperson said.

"Since July 7 there is no requirement to supply any peat to Lough Ree Power and the energy business unit has no option but to take the decision to cease all operations at Mountdillon."

Irish Independent

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