Bruton challenged on Bord na Móna layoffs ahead of emergency board meeting today
Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton has today (Tuesday) been challenged to confirm whether he approved plans Bord na Mona to lay off over 200 workers on May 1 followed by a further 200 later in mid-May, and to ensure that any plans are halted pending Government formation.
The call by Unite comes ahead of an emergency board meeting of the company later today.
Commenting, Regional Officer Colm Quinlan said: “As government formation talks enter a crucial phase, Minister Richard Bruton must come clean with Bord na Mona workers, potential coalition partners and the general public, and state whether he approved Bord na Mona’s decision to impose forced layoffs and wage cuts in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 emergency.
“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 Mona is asking workers to pick up the bill for an emergency not of their making.
“The proposals by Bord na Mona not only fly in the face of the Just Transition agreement concluded in 2019 – they also run counter to the Government’s stated policy that companies should avail of the Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme and maintain workers’ earnings," Mr Quinlan said.
Regional Officer Bernard Daly added: “Bord na Mona workers and their local communities have already paid the price for the current Government’s hands-off approach, including their failure to enact legislation obviating the need for planning applications to be submitted for any peat extraction exceeding 30 hectares, which would have enabled the 2020 peat harvest to proceed on schedule.
“Minister Bruton must now state clearly whether, as one of his last acts as Minister, he approved proposals which will have a long-term negative impact on Bord na Mona, its workers and local communities. If he did, he must now take political responsibility and instruct the company to put a hold on any proposals until the new Government is formed and a new Minister is in place.
“If the Minister did not approve these proposals, he should likewise intervene to halt them pending the formation of a new government and inclusive discussions with all stakeholders, including the Just Transition Commissioner," Mr Daly concluded.
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