| 10.3°C Dublin

ESB now admits it pays €80,000 a year to hardline union boss Ogle

THE hardline ESB workers' union boss -- who described his own members as "spoilt" -- gets paid more than €80,000 by the semi-State company.

The energy supplier admitted it finances Secretary of the Group of Unions Brendan Ogle's salary, plus his full-time secretary's wages and top floor offices on Merrion Square.

This admission comes a day after Mr Ogle refused to say whether the ESB paid some of his wages.

Recently the union boss, who praises Fidel Castro, has been a guest speaker for hardline republican socialists Eirigi.

Last night, the commercial semi-State company admitted the arrangement was "unique" as Mr Ogle is on secondment from the UNITE union. The ESB said Mr Ogle's appointment to the job three years ago was the first time a union official had taken the role, and gone on the payroll. Previous holders of the position were already staff members.

Mr Ogle was yesterday forced to apologise to ESB staff, who earn an average €75,000 a year, after describing them as "spoilt" in a speech last May which was caught on camera and subsequently posted online.

In the speech to Eirigi, Mr Ogle had also claimed the ESB workers enjoyed Government "gravy" in the form of perks like after work schemes.

In his statement, Mr Ogle claimed his comments were reported "completely out of context". "Nevertheless, I fully appreciate that the comments were made in an inappropriate environment and manner and I sincerely apologise to all ESB staff for any hurt caused by recent reportage," he said.

"Throughout my address, I repeatedly stated that I am lucky and privileged to represent the staff in ESB. I reiterate that comment now." he said.

"In that role, I have consistently pointed out to staff that due to the downturn, loss of customers and the fall off in project development that 'gravy' which all workers in the public and private sector benefited from during the so-called Celtic Tiger years would dry up."

His "gravy" comments came to light as the ESB announced a 12pc hike in prices.