Unions and political representatives are seeking clarity for Bord na Móna workers following speculation that hundreds of jobs could be lost due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Bord na Mona confirmed it will “temporarily release” 230 workers as of April 30, but that its “permanent employees” will continue to receive 100% of basic pay. The jobs affect management, permanent and seasonal employees.
It will avail of the Government’s emergency response measures, it said. The layoffs will come from its Energy Business Unit.
It said that revenue at the Edenderry power station has significantly declined, while peat sales to the Lough Ree power station have stopped. The fall in commercial revenues is “unprecedented”, it said.
Workers representative union Unite asked Communications, Climate Action, and Environment Minister Richard Bruton to confirm whether he approved plans for Bord na Móna to lay off workers.
Unite regional officer Colm Quinlan said: “While the current emergency has seen a drop in fuel demand and pricing, it is noteworthy that the ESB has absorbed this hit instead of passing it on to workers. In contrast, Bord na Móna is asking workers to pick up the bill for an emergency not of their making.”
Fellow regional officer Bernard Daly called on Mr Bruton to instruct the company to put a hold on any proposals until the new Government is formed and a new minister is in place.
A spokesperson for the department said: “This is a really difficult time for workers and their families. Today’s announcement is a direct result of the impact of Covid-19 on electricity and horticultural markets.
“Those impacted will receive access to the Government’s Covid-19 payment, which will be topped up by Bord na Móna to base wage level. The Government put in place a number of measures as part of Budget 2020, including a €36m package to secure jobs and a just transition for the Midlands. These initiatives are being advanced.”
The department said the Minister is considering a progress report from former Labour Relations Commission chief executive Kieran Mulvey who was appointed as the first Just Transition Commissioner.
“The report has made a number of recommendations, across a range of government departments. Work is underway to act on the immediate measures and to engage on those which require cross-government support.”