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Wind turbine technicians to begin work-to-rule on Monday

Siemens refuses to negotiate with union representing staff

Siemens wind turbine technicians plan work-to-rule from next week. Photograph: David Sleator/THE IRISH TIMES

Wind power generating companies in the west of the country could find themselves without maintenance services next week if industrial action planned by Siemens’ technicians goes ahead.

Members of the Technical Engineering & Electrical Union (TEEU) employed by Siemens Ireland Ltd, who service and repair wind turbines, have voted to take industrial action after the company said it would not recognise the union.

The 23 technicians, based mainly in Cork, Kerry and Donegal, will begin a work to rule on Monday and will not repair wind turbines outside of normal 8am to 5pm working hours. They will also not attend call-outs at weekends or deal directly with customers.

Siemens employs 260 workers in Ireland including in its renewable energy and healthcare businesses.

Arthur Hall, assistant general secretary of the union, said he is “totally baffled” that the company is refusing to recognise the right of the technicians to be represented by a union. It already had union agreements with Unite in its Swords healthcare plant and with the Communication Workers’ Union at its call centre in Cork, he said. And it recognises unions in other European countries.

He said the conditions for technicians at Siemens were inferior to other wind farm companies. “The staff came to us to join the union because they were unhappy with the terms and conditions of their employment,” he said. “I have been writing to Siemens since January to no avail.”

Mr Hall said if the work to rule received no response, the union had a mandate for strike action.

In a statement yesterday, said it employed 260 people in Ireland including 45 people employed in project management, operations, and servicing of wind farms across a number of locations. The company engaged in “regular communication and consultation” with all staff.

“We have a grievance and open door policy that encourages employees to raise/discuss any issue they might have with regard to their terms and conditions of employment,” it said.

“Siemens Ltd recognises the right of an individual to join a trade union however, we have advised the TEEU that we will continue to engage directly with our employees on all matters relating to their employment.”

The statement also said customers had been advised of the intended industrial action and the company working to minimise disruption to services.