BUSINESS leaders are warning that power cuts before Christmas could cripple the economy.
Union officials say power cuts would be "inevitable" and would come in the two weeks leading up to the festive period unless an eleventh hour solution is found in the dispute over the €1.6bn hole in the ESB's pension scheme.
Secretary of the ESB group of unions Brendan Ogle warned that his members would not be deflected by the anticipated public backlash that industrial action would unleash.
The Restaurant Association of Ireland chief executive, Adrian Cummins, said any power cuts in the run-up to Christmas would have a "devastating" effect on the restaurant sector.
"Christmas is a vital time for the industry. Around 30pc to 40pc of revenue is gathered in the five to six weeks in the run-up to Christmas, especially for those catering for the Christmas party season," he said.
Both Mr Cummins and Richard Guiney, chief executive of the Dublin City Business Improvement District, called for everything possible to be done to avert strike action.
"It is unfortunate that the ESB workers can hold the country to ransom over something that should be sorted out between the unions and the ESB management. It does nothing for the image of the country trying to attract industry," said Mr Cummins.
Mr Guiney said the business before Christmas helps sustain shopworkers' jobs in the lean months of the New Year.
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