Tara Mines on course to close as planned next week, unions acknowledge

Ministers tell worker representatives provision of supports will take time to put in place

Unions representing workers at Tara Mines will seek to resolve the issue of the terms on which workers are to be laid off from the facility next week when they meet company management on Tuesday.

The question of how many workers will be kept on to maintain the mine and what change in circumstances might trigger a reopening will also be on the agenda after union representatives failed to secure the sort of immediate action from Government they believe would have been required to prompt a management rethink on the move.

The mine is due to be placed in “care and maintenance” on Friday, July 14th when the vast majority of the 650 staff as well external contractors are expected to be laid off.

“It was clear from the meeting that the Government is committed to exploring what measures it can take to provide financial assistance to this essential economic asset. However, due to EU prohibitions on certain types of state aid this will be a complex task and it is extremely unlikely any measures can be in place prior to the scheduled temporary closure of the mine on 14th July,” said Adrian Kane of Siptu after a meeting with Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and her fellow Fine Gael TD for Meath Damien English on Monday.


“The union representatives also raised the issue of enhanced social protection measures for our members in the event of a lay-off situation. Currently, Ireland has a social protection system outside of the European mainstream which does not include a payment of a percentage of a workers’ previous earnings.

“The Government has committed to continuing engagement with unions on these matters which will involve all relevant departments.”

Siptu’s John Regan said Boliden, the company that owns the mine, “has yet to present unions with a satisfactory outline of what it envisages providing its employees in terms of a retainer and other payments in the event of a lay-off. This is a completely unacceptable situation and does not bode well in terms of where this dispute is heading.”

Tom Fitzgerald of Unite said he believed the management had been “disingenuous” in its dealings with the unions and that it had never had any intention of reconsidering its initial decision to temporarily close down the facility.

“They wanted to talk about their costs but when we asked about revenue and profits they said couldn’t talk about that,” he said.

The issue of the mine’s strategic national importance had been raised with the Ministers, he said, and he had again raised the issue of nationalisation.

He described the engagement as “constructive” and said he anticipated further meetings next week.

A spokesperson for Department of Enterprise said: “The Minister had a constructive meeting with the Tara Mines unions this afternoon and urged the Unions to continue their own constructive engagement with company management.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times