'Imperative BnM can progress with milling peat, in order for workers – both seasonal and permanent – to maintain their employment until at least the end 2020' - Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice
The positive decision from An Bord Pleanala which now means Bord na Mona can proceed with an application for substitute consent must be welcomed, according to Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
Commenting on the matter, he noted that BnM must not delay in this process.
“While it is disappointing that An Bord Pleanala took so long to announce a decision, this development must be welcomed. The hierarchy within BnM must not delay in now applying and securing substitute consent.
“Workers involved in the milling of peat for energy production, the horticulture sector or the mushroom industry have been waiting for this decision for weeks.
“BnM must now honour the recommendations from the ‘Just Transition’ report and treat its workers fairly.
“Seasonal workers have been abandoned by the company in recent weeks, with BnM not applying for the Government’s Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to maintain links with these workers.
“While BnM is quick to state that the temporary layoffs have resulted due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing a reduction in demand for electricity and weaker prices, it seems as if the ordinary workers are being left to carry the can – while the company and its hierarchy shield themselves from any cuts.
“It is imperative that BnM can progress with milling peat this summer as quickly as possible, in order for workers – both seasonal and permanent – to maintain their employment until at least the end of this year.
“Hopefully, pre-harvesting operations can begin in earnest now given the good weather being experienced.
“Progress must also be made when it comes to deliberating on the numerous applications to the voluntary redundancy programme. Countless BNM workers are eager to take redundancy and move on, but a lack of progress in processing the applications has left them in limbo.
“Today’s decision from An Bord Pleanala should be a catalyst for progress on a number of fronts for BnM, if the right decisions are made,” Fitzmaurice concluded.
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