Bord na Mona transport workers vote for strike over outsourcing threat

Published by Niall Sargent on

November 8th, 2017

Bord na Móna (BNM) transport workers have voted unanimously for an all-out strike in opposition to an alleged attempt by management to outsource jobs to a private contractor.

The workers came to the decision at a general meeting held yesterday at the offices of the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

According to BNM Group of Unions Secretary and SIPTU Organiser, John Regan, the semi-state outlined a plan to outsource the operation of its trucks to a private contractor in a letter to drivers on 3 November.

He said that the strike will take place on Thursday, 16 November if BNM goes ahead with this “threat” to start outsourcing the work on that date as indicated in the letter.

“BNM is a highly profitable business and is expanding its supply of peat to the UK and China, which will require additional road haulage to ports. There is no question that there is the continued need for these drivers who have served the company loyally for many years,” Mr Regan added.

Workplace Relations Commission Dispute

He said that BNM also sent a letter to SIPTU representatives outlined its disagreement with the union’s decision to refer the dispute to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

“The refusal by management to attend the WRC has wider implications for all workers in BNM across all business units,” Mr Regan said. “If management maintains this position it will inevitably result in the wider BNM Group of Unions becoming involved in this dispute.”

In a statement, BMM said that it is implementing the terms of the 2016 WRC Agreement, which “details processes for the resolution of any issues arising from its implementation details”.

“The company encourages all parties to the agreement to engage with these resolution processes,” the statement continues.

Tipperary Briquette Workers

Earlier this year Bord na Mona announced plans to close a briquette plant in Littleton, Co Tipperary, with 69 jobs set to be phased out by April 2018.

In August, Independent TD Michael Lowry told the Tipperary Star that workers at the Littleton should be offered the most generous redundancy package possible.

In the wake of the announcement, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that the Government must do more to protect workers at risk of job losses during the transition to a low carbon economy.

He has called for the peat subsidy of around €120m a year to be used for the re-training of workers in the Midlands for jobs in the renewable sector. For that subsidy per worker, at least three or four sustainable jobs with a long-term future could be financed, he said.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London