Bord na Móna workers face compulsory redundancy

Dozens of Tipperary staff to be dismissed in the first deal of its type in over 30 years

Bord na Móna has  been moving into businesses such as electricity generation, waste processing and horticulture in recent years.

Bord na Móna has been moving into businesses such as electricity generation, waste processing and horticulture in recent years.

 

About 85 workers at a Bord na Móna factory face compulsory redundancy in what is the first such agreement between unions and a State company for more than 30 years.

Workers in the Littleton peat briquette plant in Co Tipperary have voted overwhelmingly for a redundancy deal negotiated by three unions ahead of the factory’s closure this year.

The agreement provides for compulsory redundancies, allowing Bord na Móna to let workers go on March 28th if they cannot be kept on or redeployed. Siptu official John Regan acknowledged this meant that about 85 workers will be made compulsorily redundant on that date.

He said the company was keeping on roughly 40 of the 127 staff to wind down the Littleton facility.

However its distance from other Bord na Móna plants means redeployment is not an option for most of those working there.

Trade unions normally oppose compulsory redundancies where an employer is letting staff go but not closing down entirely. Instead, they favour redeployment or generous voluntary severance.

Irish shipping

This applies particularly to State companies. It is thought that the last time unions agreed to compulsory redundancies from a Government-owned enterprise was when ship builder Irish Shipping closed in 1982.

Mr Regan, who negotiated the deal with Ed Thompson of Unite and Darren Erangey of the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union, insisted the Littleton deal would not set a precedent.

He said the agreement obliges the company to consult with workers ahead of decisions on future closures or job losses. This did not happen with Littleton as the board decided to shut it down on May 4th and told workers the following day.

“We fought this very hard,” Mr Regan said. “There is no doubt that the deal we have negotiated is a good deal.” He noted that 94 out of the 100 workers balloted voted for the agreement.

Pension

Departing staff will get six weeks pay for every year worked with Bord na Móna, up to a total of 104 weeks. The legal minimum redundancy payment is two weeks for every year.

The company will top up their pension by 4 per cent a year and make other extra payments.

Bord na Móna is closing Littleton because demand for briquettes, used mostly by households in open fires, has halved since the start of the century. The company makes 240 tonnes of the fuel every year but can only sell 130 tonnes.

The State company, set up to exploit the Republic’s bogs, has been moving into businesses such as electricity generation, waste processing and horticulture in recent years as its core business came under pressure. Bord na Móna employs more than 2,200 full-time and seasonal workers.