Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 20 November 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
Supporting a Just Transition: Discussion (Resumed)
I wish to pose questions to the Bord na Móna and ESB representatives. The workers and communities are front and centre of all we do here. We need to be mindful that people are shocked and in grief over how things happened so suddenly. As I have pointed out in the Dáil, other European regions seem to have been given a longer period of transition.
It is shameful the State pushes populism ahead of workers' rights and communities. I have said that to the Minister quite openly. My concern is with the workers at this time. I welcome the statement by Mr. Dollard from the ESB that he believed most of the 80 workers affected would take the redeployment option. That is fantastic and clear-cut. The Bord na Móna workers are not so fortunate, however, and more of them are affected.
From the complaints that I have heard from workers, I sense that there is no ongoing communication. The workers seem to be very much in the dark and confused about what is happening. There are definitely issues with the redundancy packages and seasonal workers. What level of communication is taking place with those workers? I ask that the company engage in ongoing communication with the workers and more outreach because many of the problems arise from the communication issue.
Bord na Móna has drawn up a plan for offering redundancy packages. Were any of the elements of the plans used in the coal mining region of northern Spain or in Germany where the transition will last until 2038 taken on board? It is paramount that the workers are treated well when it comes to redundancy packages. These are loyal workers, many of whom have worked in the company for 30 years. The company has been very good and it is important that the workers receive fair play. I hope the new jobs that come on-stream are guaranteed. I am sceptical about the retrofitting plan as I do not believe that work is guaranteed. As the trade unions have pointed out, there is a tender process involved. I am worried about that element. I appeal to the company to ensure the redundancy packages are fair and comparable with those that have been offered to workers elsewhere in Europe who are in this position. What happens here will be used a litmus test, certainly in this country. We have to get this right, be fair and ensure that our workers are not treated differently from workers elsewhere in Europe.
I did not pick up any clarity with regard to the power plant in Edenderry, although I may have missed something. I heard the answer with regard to the plant in Derrinlough.