Bord Na Móna workers are to hold a public protest in Co Longford tomorrow over the loss of 72 jobs at its midlands plant.
The protest will highlight the threat by the company to lay off permanent staff at Mountdillon without pay, as well as objecting to the treatment of 78 of seasonal workers who have already been laid off indefinitely.
Trade union members from SIPTU, Connect and Unite, who are organising the protest, will gather in Lanesboro at 7.30pm tomorrow.
The announcement that 148 workers would be laid off was made on July 11 and since then, union representatives and Bord Na Móna have been in talks over the staff losses.
The Group of Unions (GOU) had sought alternatives to the 72 jobs losses of permanent staff, suggesting redeployment opportunities, transfer arrangements and voluntary redundancies.
During these discussions, the GOU agreed that staff would be "totally flexible" in accepting all redeployment options and agreed that they would use their annual leave entitlements to avoid compulsory unpaid lay-offs for the five or six-week period.
The GOU said yesterday that Bord Na Móna management "has insisted on the right to enforce unpaid layoffs of permanent staff."
"On Friday, July 19, management informed the GOU that once annual leave is exhausted, some employees will be placed on regular periods of unpaid lay-off for indefinite periods of time," they said in a statement yesterday.
The unions said talks between the two parties had come to a standstill and that the discussions on the alternatives for staff had failed.
"The GOU has provided Bord Na Móna with a solution that would provide an arrangement which would avoid unnecessary lay-offs for permanent workers who have not volunteered to leave the company for the time period that is required. The “apparent temporary” closure of Lough Ree Power Station should not be allowed to be an excuse for this semi-state company to force through compulsory, unpaid layoffs," a spokesperson said.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow's protest, Secretary of the Bord Na Móna Group of Unions and SIPTU Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “Bord Na Móna has indicated that it will recommence the process of laying off permanent workers from Monday despite discussions with the Group of Unions (GOU) over the past week which provided a solution that would avoid the requirement to lay off more staff.
“These workers and their families would greatly appreciate support as they are resolute in their view that they should not be treated in this fashion, particularly by a semi-state company, and should not be facing unpaid lay-offs in circumstances where verified work remains available for them to do.”
The GOU have called on Bord Na Móna to re-enter discussions on maintaining employment at Mountdillon over the coming weeks while the Lough Ree power station remains off grid.