Government’s Total Disregard For Bord Na Mona Workers

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Brid Smith TD condemns Government’s total disregard for BNM workers in wake of ESB’s announcement of closure of Shannonbridge and Lough Ree power stations

Brid Smith TD has condemned the Government’s total disregard for Bord na Móna and ESB workers in the wake of the announcement by the ESB that it will close its Shannonbridge and Lough Ree power stations in the Midlands.

The People Before Profit TD said that “this callous disregard for workers is unforgiveable coming just a few days after a Dáil debate about the future of the Bord na Móna workforce – a debate in which Minister Richard Bruton must have known what would follow just two days later.”

She described his silence on this matter as inexplicable in light of the catastrophic implications of the closure of the two power stations.

The announcement by the ESB comes in the wake of mounting concerns by Bord na Móna unions after months in which the company has refused to engage with them.

Brid Smith TD said that the allocation of €31 million for a Just Transition was “too little, too late.” The €20 million allocated for an energy efficiency scheme is likely to go to private contractors. The €5 million for peatlands restoration is similarly unlikely to go to Bord na Móna workers. The €6 million allocated for a Just Transition fund is small change compared to the €250 million allocated to coal mining communities in the north of Spain.

Deputy Smith condemned Bord na Móna for refusing a proposal from the unions to go to the WRC. She reiterated the urgent need for the WRC process to deal with the range of very serious issues impacting on the Bord na Móna and ESB workforces, including upskilling and retraining, the generation of alternative jobs; protection of employment terms and conditions; a proper redundancy programme; proper provision for pensions and support for the communities impacted.

Brid Smith said that “we will not win the fight against climate change if all we have to offer people are taxes and job losses.”

She called on climate activists to show support for the Bord na Móna and ESB workers and said there was real potential for both workforces to join together in the fight for a Just Transition.