Tuesday 26 March 2019

Coal depot jobs follow briquette staff lay-offs

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Alan O'Keeffe

The ending of wholesale coal distribution by Bord na Mona (BNM) has angered its workers. The announcement in recent days will result in the shutdown of BNM coal depots around Ireland and result in more than 45 jobs being lost, unions said last night.

The job losses and closure of the coal depots will follow the loss of 85 jobs on Wednesday caused by the semi-state company's decision to wind down and close the Littleton briquette factory in Co Tipperary.

The nationwide ban on smoky coal that comes into effect at the end of next year has been blamed for the closure of the depots.

Workers had hoped the company would begin manufacturing smokeless fuel to replace its smoky coal business and they were disappointed when BNM decided not to do so, they said.

The Bord na Mona Group of Unions is seeking a meeting with the company to express the anger of its members concerning the announcement that it intends to close its coal operations.

The coal operations affected are the Lullymore facility and the BNM fuel headquarters in Newbridge, both in Co Kildare, as well as a number of coal depots around the country.

John Regan, BNM Group of Unions secretary and Siptu organiser, said: "The BNM Group of Unions was provided with no advance notice of the announcement on Wednesday that the company intends to close coal operations around the country.

"Our members are angered that no engagement took place with their union officials but not surprised by this move by Bord na Mona, as the same approach has been adopted previously. The repeated behaviour of this semi-state employer towards its loyal workforce and their union representatives is completely unacceptable," he said.

"At a meeting with management, the BNM Group of Unions will be demanding to know why it was kept in the dark about company plans which have such a severe impact on our members," he said.

He told the Sunday Independent that managers were despatched to depots last Wednesday to tell the workers of the closures.

"The BNM Group of Unions should have been fully briefed on the plans that were brought before the company board yesterday which seek a reduction in the number of workers across all BNM coal operations," he said.

"At the meeting, we will be seeking to discuss the full implications of this decision in terms of the jobs of more than 45 people the company has stated will be lost," he said.

The compulsory redundancy of 85 workers at Littleton that comes into effect on Wednesday marks the first time that unions have agreed to mandatory job losses in a State-owned enterprise since the closure of Irish Shipping in 1982.

Workers in the Littleton plant had voted strongly in favour of accepting the redundancy package which provides for six weeks' pay for each year worked, but up to a limit of two years' pay.

However, it is believed when other factors are taken into consideration, some workers will receive more than the two years' pay maximum.

Around 40 of the Littleton plant's 127 staff are remaining on a temporary basis to complete the wind-down of the facility.

Sunday Independent

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