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Wednesday 29 January 2020

ESB staff told more must leave or face new cuts in pay

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

THE ESB warned staff yesterday that they would face further cuts in income if the company failed to get 700 voluntary redundancies.

The energy supplier has acknowledged growing concern that the redundancy package is not attractive enough to tempt a sufficient number of employees to go.

But it said it was "likely" that it would have to address any financial shortfall with other cuts if it cannot shed enough staff from the 6,700-strong workforce.

However, in a document to staff this week it said the extent to which these cuts would impact further on their incomes "cannot be assessed" at this stage.

Workers are already set to suffer reductions in their overtime, mileage and subsistence under proposals to cut €140m from payroll costs, which include the redundancy scheme.

However, their basic pay -- which on average is more than €70,000 -- will stay the same. They will continue to get paid increments under the proposals -- although the four-year plan means a pay freeze and a cap on profit-sharing payments.

There have been concerns among staff that the redundancy scheme is not as attractive as one that was on offer for years.

Pension benefits, including lump sums, are deferred for staff aged between 50 and 60 until they reach the age of 65, although they will get a severance payment upfront.

The previous scheme allowed them to opt for half-pay for around 10 years until they drew down their pensions.

In an attempt to encourage staff to take redundancy, the ESB said there was "no point" comparing the current scheme with the previous one.

Attractive

"In today's environment, the previous scheme would not be affordable or approvable," it said.

"Instead, the scheme should be compared to what else is on offer in Ireland today.

"This proposed voluntary-severance scheme compares favourably with all other schemes currently being offered in Ireland.

"It's an attractive package that we can sustain while rebuilding the financial strength of the company."

Unions will hold briefings for staff from Monday -- before ESB workers vote on whether to accept proposals to cut staff numbers by 1,000, including 700 voluntary redundancies. The result will be announced on March 30.

Irish Independent

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