Bord na Móna must treat staff with respect

23 July 2019

Labour TD for Longford-Westmeath, Willie Penrose has called on Bord Na Móna and the Government to ensure workers affected by plant closures are treated with respect and for it to engage with unions, and change its approach to the recent layoffs, and he said that the Midlands must not be abandoned following the latest An Bord Pleanála decision.

He added that workers could be temporarily redeployed to bog reinstatement work as an interim measure instead of ending permanent contracts, with the financial support of the State.

Deputy Penrose said:

“For all the talk of a ‘just transition’, Bord na Móna employees at Mountdillion have been treated appallingly in recent days with permanent staff being left without pay. Such a move is not acceptable. I was unable to attend the protest in Lanesboro last night but Labour Cllr Johnny Penrose and local members attended the march in solidarity with the employees, and I am calling on Bord na Móna to give fair treatment to its staff.

“It is unbecoming of a publicly owned company to have treated workers the way it has in recent days. The decision to lay off all temporary workers without taking into account their employment rights means many cannot attain their full social welfare payments.

“Instead of the high handed approach being pursued by Bord na Móna with workers being made redundant, all options should be examined. I am aware that the Group of Unions has tabled alternatives and these should be taken on board. The Minister cannot sit idly on his hands while full time staff are made redundant. For example, there will many years of work to reinstate bogs once extraction ends, and there is no reason why some employees could not be temporarily assigned to work like this as an interim measures.

“Nearly a fortnight ago I said there was an urgent need for a State taskforce with supports from IDA and Enterprise Ireland to examine how to create and sustain new employment opportunities in the Midlands. That remains the least the Government could do.

“Within Bord na Móna alone we know there are plans for future bog closures and as a result peat harvesting will be winding down across the company.  We know that as the economy is moving away from a dependency on traditional fossil fuels, there is an onus on the government to protect workers in this industry. A just transition to a green economy means the safeguarding of workers with proper compensation packages and opportunities for retraining.”

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