ESB staff union group on verge of collapse
THE union body representing the ESB's workforce of more than 7,000 is on the verge of collapse following a controversial speech by its leader Brendan Ogle.
A second union will refuse to participate in the Group of Unions just weeks after the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) split from the group after Mr Ogle referred to members as "spoilt".
Sources last night said SIPTU was likely to announce its decision at the umbrella body's next meeting, which may be today.
They said SIPTU had made a decision that it would not participate because it believed the union body could not continue without all five union members.
The TEEU, which has around 1,400 ESB members, suspended its membership of the group earlier this month.
The union group has splintered since the Irish Independent revealed Mr Ogle's remarks in a speech to Eirigi last May.
He said workers at the energy supplier got "gravy" from the Government in the form of an after-hours work scheme.
"SIPTU sees no point in participating in a group that is dysfunctional and will not be part of the charade," said an insider.
"There is no point continuing in the absence of the TEEU or any of the other members of the union group."
Mr Ogle apologised for calling members "spoilt" but said his remarks were taken out of context because they were reported on the same day the ESB announced a 12pc price hike.
The leaders of the other main unions, including Mr Ogle's union UNITE and the ESB Officers' Association, are backing him and previously voted against his suspension.
The group's latest difficulties will cause further problems for ESB management, which is engaged in talks with unions on payroll cuts of €140m.