ESB talks fail to avert threat of strike action

Talks between ESB unions and management yesterday failed to avert the threat of power cuts across the country in the run-up to Christmas.

Both sides emerged from the discussions in Dublin admitting there remained “significant differences” between them over the company’s defined benefit pension scheme.

ESB unions will, therefore, proceed today with serving strike notice on management. That notice expires on Dec 16 after which strikes could become a reality.

At the outset of yesterday’s meeting, unions delivered a submission to the company in which it accused “highly paid management” of breaking faith with staff and saying it was the company’s responsibility to take care of its staff’s pension scheme.

Talks between the two sides concluded shortly after 6pm last night after four hours of talks.

Unite, one of the unions which makes up the ESB Group of Unions, said the meeting had begun a “process of dialogue”.

“However, Unite considers that insufficient progress was made to defer serving notice of industrial action on the company,” said Unite official Richie Browne.

“Unite will, therefore, be serving notice on the ESB at 2pm tomorrow [Friday].

“Notwithstanding this, we will remain fully engaged in the process which began today and, together with the other unions involved, will be focusing all our efforts on resolving this dispute before Dec 16.”

He said informal discussion would continue behind the scenes once further information had been gathered, but he was unable to say when formal discussions would resume.

Mr Browne also said the unions had received no correspondence from a third party intermediary, though he added that no intervention had been sought.

A spokesman for ESB management said of yesterday’s meeting: “There was an open and frank exchange of views and significant differences remain between the parties.

“Both parties have agreed to engage in intensive dialogue focused on addressing these differences.”


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