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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Even limited ESB industrial action may end up in a blackout

Mr Browne has defended the timing of the potential strike
Mr Browne has defended the timing of the potential strike
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Trade union Unite spokesperson Richard Brown has warned that the nation may well be plunged into darkness this Christmas as “widespread disruptions” are a distinct possibility.

“Even if workers in the ESB take some form of limited industrial action, short of an all out strike, I have no doubt that it will cause huge disruption to the service and will result in power outages,” he told RTE Radio 1 this morning.

“Given the depth of feeling and the fact that all workers are affected by this, it will invariably end up in widespread disruptions to services.”

But Mr Browne has defended the timing of the potential strike, maintaining that unions have been raising pension scheme issues with ESB chiefs “for over a year and a half.”

“The ESB have dishonestly and inaccurately described their pension scheme which is a defined benefit pensions scheme,” he said as he outlined that ESB workers are now concerned over the risk placed upon them under the defined contribution scheme.

The ESB “have effectively washed their hands and walked away from any obligation, responsibility or liability they have to the scheme”, he added.

ESB declined to comment in the radio interview this morning in light of upcoming union talks and Mr Browne maintained that any action taken “will be by and large determined by the companies’ response to us.”

“The group of unions will elect or nominate its disrupt to the strike committee. It is up to those representatives to decide, in the event of industrial action, what form of action will be taken and

In event of industrial action, what form and duration that action will take,” he said.

Later this morning, Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte told RTE Radio 1 that “there is no risk to the ESB pension scheme”.

“There is no intention to close down the ESB.  It is one of the best funded schemes in the country. It will continue to function as always intended,” he said.

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