Update 10.10pm: Unions have criticised Bord na Mona management following the announcment that the Littleton peat briquette plant is to close with the loss of 69 jobs.
Around 100 Unite and TEEU craft members working for Bord na Mona attended a general meeting to discuss the closure tonight in Tullamore.
According to unions, attendees voted unanimously to instruct the unions to seek an urgent meeting with senior management in an attempt to reverse the decision and secure the terms and conditions of members.
In the event of agreement not being reached, workers will be seeking a further general meeting to consider all industrial relations options, up to and including strike action.
“Our members in Littleton first heard that their plant had been selected for closure over breakfast this morning," said Unite regional officer Colm Quinlan.
“It is unacceptable that the board of Bord na Mona should take such a decision without first consulting with unions.
“Given the anger expressed by many of our members at tonight’s meeting, the company should be in no doubt that workers will take all necessary actions not only to protect their own jobs, but also to safeguard the future of the local community in which Bord na Mona plays such a vital role.”
Update 6.28pm: The Bord na Móna (BNM) Group of Unions has stated that it does not accept the decision by the company to close its peat briquette plant in Littleton, Co Tipperary.
BNM Group of Unions Secretary and SIPTU Organiser, John Regan, said: “Our members are very disappointed but not surprised by this move by Bord na Móna.
“We do not accept the decision to close the plant in Littleton and it will be opposed by our members by all legitimate means including industrial action.
“There have been issues with sales of peat briquettes in the last two years.
“However, our members believe this move is premature and unwarranted, particularly as the plant is also in a process of diversifying its output with the development of a biomass briquette. The decision is part of a wider pattern of choices by the management of BNM which has led to our members increasingly questioning the entire strategic direction of the Board.”
“It is totally unacceptable that this decision was made by senior management without advance engagement with the BNM Group of Unions.
“This has angered our members and deeply disappointed them. It leaves them with no option but to consider what action must now be taken to persuade the company to reverse this unacceptable decision.”
Bord na Móna is to close its briquette factory in Littleton in Tipperary.
Management have addressed staff at the plant and another facility in Co Offaly today.
The Tipperary facility is to close down in April next year, with the loss of 69 jobs. The company is to begin consultation shortly with unions and employees on the job losses.
Its plant in Derrinlough, where 61 people are employed, will then be its sole location for the production of peat briquettes and new biomass briquettes. The company confirmed it is to seek planning permisison to begin large scale production of biomass briquettes at Derrinlough.
In a statement, Bórd na Móna said the decision to closethe Tipperary plant was prompted by a "very significant decline" in sales over the past few years.
It said sales had come under pressure due to increased competition, consumer trends, low oil prices, carbon tax and other factors.
"This fall in sales prompted a review in briquetting operations that was mandated to identify a solution to the challenges that would sustain the business and jobs for the long term.," the company said.
Head of Bord na Móna Fuels Eddie Scaife said: "This has been a very difficult decision following a period of uncertainty for employees. We took a great deal of care with this review to ensure that a wide range of factors were taken into account.
"Ultimately we had to make a decision that ensured we had a business that could survive these challenges and safeguard the biggest number of briquetting jobs."