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Sunday 18 February 2018

Union official faces fury of his 'spoilt' ESB members

Ogle urged to apologise and quit

Brendan Ogle: promised to
issue a statement today
Brendan Ogle: promised to issue a statement today

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

ESB workers are furious at comments by their most senior union representative Brendan Ogle that they are "spoilt".

A former union official at the state energy provider last night demanded that Mr Ogle apologise to the workforce of more than 7,000 and then quit the trade union movement altogether.

IMPACT assistant general secretary Denis Rohan, who represented ESB staff for almost two decades, said the remarks were "insulting" and that Mr Ogle should leave the world of industrial relations "with his tail between his legs".

He was speaking after Mr Ogle's comments on his members in a speech to the republican socialist group Eirigi last May came to light at the weekend. In his address, he claimed the ESB workers were spoilt but said they would not mind him saying that because he had said it to them often enough.

But sources at ESB said many union members were less than impressed by the speech.

Mr Ogle, who is on secondment from UNITE, told the Irish Independent yesterday that he was only answerable to his members and would issue a statement addressing the issues raised today.

The union official, who has a full-time secretary as head of the ESB group of unions, refused to say whether he is paid directly by the company.

When asked whether his wages and those of his full-time secretary were financed by the ESB, he said: "I don't think that's any of your concern.

"I am answerable to the staff in the ESB group of unions -- if I'm answerable to anybody -- and I think that's all I have to say on that matter.

"I will be issuing a statement dealing with this episode. I will issue it in the first instance to the people who I am responsible to, the ESB group of unions. I will take it as it comes."

When asked if he stood over his comments to Eirigi, Mr Ogle said: "I'm not making any further comment. I'll stand on my record to the ESB staff and I'll be answerable to them."

IMPACT official Denis Rohan said Mr Ogle's "ramblings" would "do little to instil confidence in those he claims to represent" in forthcoming talks on cost-cutting at the company.

Mr Rohan previously represented staff at the ESB between the 1980s and 2002 as assistant branch secretary at the ATGWU, which is now UNITE.

He commented: "He (Mr Ogle) would be better employed working to improve the conditions of ESB employees, rather than claiming they are spoilt.

"On second thoughts, perhaps he should apologise to workers in ESB and exit the trade union movement with his tail between his legs."

He said Mr Ogle's views were not shared by other officials within the trade union movement or employees of the semi-state organisation and were an "insulting portrayal".


Mr Rohan said the ESB workforce had been cut by 50pc since the 1990s and new work practices agreed. He added that the staff should not be "pilloried" for making the ESB a "competitive organisation".

Greg Ennis of SIPTU, a group of unions staff representative, said yesterday in relation to Mr Ogle that it was "obviously a very fluid situation" but he did not want to comment further. Nor did the SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor wish to comment.

However, sources claimed there was huge interest in Mr Ogle's speech at SIPTU, from which he had previously split from to set up a breakaway union. They said the speech, which is available on YouTube, had been circulated internally in an email to officials.

ESB staff representatives at the TEEU, the ESB Officers Association and UNITE did not respond to calls yesterday.

Irish Independent

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