Sunday 17 November 2019

Luxury for staff as Bord Gais rise hits customers

Call for employees' relocation cash set to infuriate households facing 22pc hike in bills


BORD Gais staff who are demanding 'disturbance money' to move just three kilometres to plush new offices will have their own private gym and a 'trolley service' delivering light refreshments to their desks as part of a new 'quality restaurant service'.

Tender documents seen by the Sunday Independent reveal that the luxury facilities will be put in place at the new five-storey landmark building overlooking the Grand Canal, just 10 minutes from Grafton Street.

Details of the costly new facilities will anger Bord Gais customers who will have to pay nearly 22 per cent more for their home gas supplies from the start of next month.

The Commission for Energy Regulation, which has approved the price rise, said it understood that an increase of such a magnitude would cause hardship for many consumers, given the difficult economic circumstances.

In February, just as Bord Gais was seeking expressions of interest to fit out its new offices, the company was also lodging new tender documents, seeking the provision of "third-party debt-collection" services to chase monies from residential and commercial customers who are more than 120 days behind in paying their gas bills.

Last week, it was revealed that Bord Gais had spent €150,000 on Aeron chairs designed by Herman Miller, which carry a retail price tag of about €650 plus VAT.

The chairs have been judged such a design icon that they are on permanent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and have been praised for offering "unparalleled comfort and aesthetically pleasing lines".

Bord Gais's new headquarters, which will replace its current office in Dublin's Foley Street, was designed by the award-winning architects Henry J Lyons.

The new building, 1 Warrington Place, boasts an oversailing bronze canopy roof. On the forecourt there is a fluid bronze sculpture by artist Michael Warren.

Bord Gais sought tenders for a number of contracts to deliver facilities for staff.

In June, it sought a supplier for "a quality restaurant catering service". It had already sought suppliers to fit out the restaurant and gymnasium.

According to the documents, the successful tenderer will be required to provide a quality restaurant service, Monday to Friday, including trolley service, hospitality service, free tea and coffee stations and vending machines.

The staff restaurant will also supply soup of the day, salad bar, a choice of three main courses, plus accompaniments and dessert. The winning tenderer also has to cater for late-evening dinner receptions on an ad hoc basis, the annual barbecue and supply catering for 12 functions a year in the board dining room.

Unions at Bord Gais Energy are seeking compensation for staff to move to the new offices.

They want a payment for the extra costs and travel time involved in making the move, although the new offices are adjacent to the Luas line and the location is well serviced by buses.

It is understood that the issue is likely to go to a third party for adjudication.

Yesterday, it was revealed that ESB staff enjoy a sparkling array of perks and pay allowances on top of their basic pay, overtime and pension contributions.

Individual allowances can be worth up to €6,000 a year and include extra cash for "availability" and being "on call", plus "oil tanker attendance", as well as "first aid" and "qualification" allowances and bonuses for some grades.

The average ESB salary, excluding pension contributions, stood at €85,000 last year. This makes ESB workers among the highest-paid industrial workers in the country.

Last week, ESB union chief Brendan Ogle narrowly avoided suspension after describing his members as "spoilt" at a speech to a meeting of the republican group Eirigi.

Mr Ogle's salary of more than €80,000 is paid by the state-owned company.

Sunday Independent

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