Cabinet discuss potential ESB strike which they label as 'retrograde'

Cabinet discuss potential ESB strike which they label as 'retrograde'

Two senior Government Ministers have described the threatened industrial action at ESB as "unnecessary".

Members of the ESB Group of Unions say there is a potential for an all-out strike after December 16, which could result in power outages in the run-up to Christmas.

Workers and management are engaged in a dispute over the company's pension fund and the Cabinet is being briefed on the situation today.

Last week, the ESB Group of Unions served notice of industrial action on the company for December 16 in an escalation of a long-running dispute over a €1.6bn deficit in the company's pension scheme.

Each of the five individual unions will now serve notice themselves, the latest one to do so is Unite, which says it will serve notice this Friday.

However, the company says it is no longer responsible for any pension deficit after a restructuring in 2010.

The Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has described the threat of strike as "unnecessary", and he says workers voted to accept less benefits in return for the company's cash injection into the pension fund a number of years ago.

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte briefed his Cabinet colleagues on the latest developments this morning.

Speaking on his way into a Cabinet briefing on the issue, the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said any strike action would be "a retrograde step".

Meanwhile, retailers are calling for emergency legislation to block any strike action, which they say will cost thousands in the run up to Christmas.

Talks are scheduled to take place between unions and management at the ESB on Thursday.


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