Ogle steps down as leader of ESB unions

Trade unionist who led workers to the brink of strike action in December leaves by ‘mutual consent’

File photograph of Brendan Ogle addressing protestersat at a Unite trade union protest in 2010. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh / THE IRISH TIMES

File photograph of Brendan Ogle addressing protestersat at a Unite trade union protest in 2010. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Brendan Ogle, the ESB Group of Unions (GoU) secretary who led its workers to the brink of industrial action shortly before Christmas, will step down from the role in “coming days”.

Mr Ogle, a Unite official who represented ESB’ workers for a decade, said the decision had been taken with “mutual consent”. He did not say what his next move would be and declined to comment beyond his resignation statement.

He said the conclusion of the dispute with ESB, which was over a proposed change in the classification of its pension scheme from defined benefit, was the “appropriate” time to step down.

He had complained in the run-up to a threatened strike by ESB workers in December that he had received death threats, which he had passed on to the Gardaí.

ESB wished Mr Ogle well, but said last year was a “difficult period” in industrial relations at the company, which had affected customers.

“ESB acknowledges that over the period of his involvement with ESB as a union official and as secretary of the ESB GoU, Mr Ogle made a significant contribution, particularly through the delivery and implementation of a number of important change agreements.”

He was the first non ESB employee to take over the position of secretary of the GoU. The position is a staff role at the company, so he has also resigned from the payroll of ESB.

Mr Ogle, who had a difficult relationship with some sections of the print media, took a parting shot at unnamed journalists in his resignation statement.

“It is ironic, but not surprising, that in recent weeks the very ESB workers who had been viciously attacked by some in the media for having the temerity to protect their pension rights, have demonstrated the very best of public service as they have battled extreme weather to protect electricity customers’ safety and supply,” he said.

He added that ESB workers had “answered their critics” in recent weeks.