Siptu seeks fund to assist workers hit by shift to low-carbon economy

Transition from fossil fuels may have ‘devastating’ implications for some workers

The Bord na Móna Edenderry power station in Co Offaly. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Bord na Móna Edenderry power station in Co Offaly. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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A new “just transition fund” should be established to give financial support and redeployment options to workers in companies such as Bord na Móna who will be hit by the State’s requirement to meet climate change targets, the trade union Siptu has said.

Addressing the union’s transport, energy aviation and construction conference in Dublin on Friday its divisional organiser Greg Ennis said the transition away from fossil fuels may have “imminent and devastating” implications for hundreds of Siptu members in Bord na Móna, as well as many other indirect jobs.

He said the union would “not be found wanting in giving our Bord na Móna members its full support in securing alternative employment or redeployment options”.

Mr Ennis said there was “an absolute need to ensure that workers, their families and communities do not get left behind” as the Government moves towards a low-carbon economy.

He urged the Government to finalise the terms of reference for its national mitigation plan and to engage directly with Siptu on the issue.

Last month, Bord na Móna announced that nearly 500 jobs would be lost due to the closure of 17 of its 62 active bogs.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Ennis said there had been three deaths in the environs of Dublin Port in the last 18 months. He said these fatalities stemmed from “the failure of the relevant authorities, ship owners and operators to listen to our call for ‘best-practice standardisation’ for seafarers and all port workers”.

“We have sought an urgent meeting with Minister for Transport Shane Ross on this matter as this must stop now”, he said.

Dublin Airport

The Siptu conference also heard demands that any new terminal that is developed at Dublin Airport must be owned and run by the State and have a unionised workforce – even if the project does not go ahead for another decade or more.

“Just to be absolutely clear, the transport, energy, aviation and construction division and this union supports the expeditious construction of the new €320 million northern runway at Dublin Airport. While we welcome the DAA’s recent announcement of its €900 million expenditure plan to cater for extra capacity, which will see up to 40 million passengers per annum using Terminal 1 and 2, a new terminal thereafter at Dublin Airport is not required now or in the near future. Should any new terminal be built after 2030, it must be State-owned, State-operated with an organised unionised workforce,” Mr Ennis said.

He also called on the Government to bring housing construction back into the remit of local authorities.

“We have the skills, the Government has the land banks and they simply need to cut their umbilical cord to those developers, land hoarders, profiteers and vulture funds and move away from its flawed and failing market-led ideology.”

“The State must put the necessary road and/or rail infrastructure into existing zoned land and build houses through the local authorities on these serviced sites for an average cost of circa €200,000 per unit, as opposed to letting the private developers do it at an average cost of €490,000 per unit.”

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