Wednesday 29 January 2020

Incinerator parent company accused of illegal pay policy

Ailish O'Hora

A US judge will rule within weeks whether the company behind the Poolbeg incinerator illegally withheld scheduled bonuses and wage increases from its workers at a plant in Massachusetts in retaliation for joining a union.

The US government has also sought an injunction against Covanta Energy after it was alleged the firm operated the unfair work practices at the SEMASS plant in West Ware-ham, Massachusetts, the Irish Independent has learned.

At the beginning of 2009, Covanta Energy issued a notice to employees stating: "The corporate bonus you have received in the past is not available to employees who are in bargaining units represented by unions."

The US National Labour Relations Board (NLRB), a federal agency of the US government, informed the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) late last year of its decision to invoke a special injunction against the energy firm. It is only invoked in cases offensive enough to warrant federal court intervention.

The NLRB has also filed a complaint against Covanta Energy in relation to alleged illegal work rules at all of its 50-plus facilities in the US.

The Irish Independent has learned that the company has been fined thousands of dollars for violations of safety rules at the Massachusetts plant over the past year. While the breaches have since been corrected, they include a $13,500 (€9,700) fine for electrical violations and a further $6,375 (€4,600) penalty for other breaches of safety.

The company was not available for comment.

The New Jersey-based firm is the parent of the main shareholder at Dublin Waste to Energy, Covanta Energy Ireland, which will operate the facility at Poolbeg alongside its public partners in the project, Dublin City Council and Danish firm Dong Energy.

Irish Independent

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