Friday 15 December 2017

Business leaders warn of damage to our reputation and urge new laws

Mark Fielding, Chief Executive, ISME
Mark Fielding, Chief Executive, ISME

Niall O'Connor and Cormac Murphy

THE dispute at the ESB has caused reputational damage to the country, even though the threat of strike action has been lifted, business leaders warned.

ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said the row highlighted the need for special measures to protect essential services.

"I think this brings home the need for legislation so that essential services like power can always be protected from the threat of industrial action," Mr Fielding said.

"But I think what we have learned here is that, in 2013, the trade union movement hasn't moved on from where it was in 1913," he added.

Irish Farmers' Association president John Bryan said that the averted strike action was a relief to thousands of farmers.

He said that a number of his members would have been forced to purchase diesel operated generators in order to keep their businesses running.

"We depend on a steady supply of electricity, most farming now is hi-tech," he told the Irish Independent.

"There was serious concern among farmers about the prospect of a strike. Many were looking at purchasing high output generators which would have caused a substantial expense."

Age Action last night said the news was a massive relief for the elderly, many of whom would have had health concerns as well as fears about heating and light.

"When you consider people who use stair lifts, ventilators and other equipment, a power strike would have created huge difficulties," said spokesman Eamon Timmins.

Fianna Fail's jobs spokesperson, Dara Calleary, said the intervention from the LRC should have happened sooner.

"The LRC needs to be commended for its intervention, which should have happened last week. If that intervention came sooner, it would have saved a lot of people a lot of worry and concern," he added.

The episode highlighted the country's vulnerability to any interruption of energy supplies, particularly electricity, according to the Green Party's Ossian Smyth.

"That is why we need to restart the debate about the innate value of harnessing our abundant renewable energy sources... (This) country needs to immediately invest in wave, wind and solar technologies," the party's energy spokesperson added.

Irish Independent

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