Energy Unions say Bord na Móna and Government must 'Stop Promising and Start Delivering' on Just Transition for Workers and Communities in the Midlands

27 May 2020

Energy

Trade unions representing workers in Bord na Móna and across the wider energy sector said today (May 27) that the recent report of the Just Transition Commissioner showed that the company and government must now “stop promising and start delivering” and set out a new pathway for a genuine Just Transition for workers and communities in the Midlands. 

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Energy Sector Group - which comprises all unions in the Irish energy sector - said Mr Mulvey’s report sets out the clear and urgent need for Bord na Móna and the government to accelerate job creation and replacement measures and to address the issue of ‘inadequate funding’ for the transition. 

The Congress Energy Sector Group said the report of the Just Transition Commissioner contained many positive recommendations that could contribute to the delivery of a genuine Just Transition in the Midlands.

The Group welcomed the report’s recommendation for the creation of a dedicated new forum under the auspices of the Midlands Regional Transition Team (MRTT) involving unions, employers and other parties to focus on issues of employment, training and reskilling. 

They said this new forum should be established as a matter of priority. 

The Group noted that the report called on Bord na Móna to outline plans in respect of alternative employment for jobs threatened by the transition process and recent planning decisions along with the need for a new ‘stimulus package’ for the Midlands, as part of the Just Transition process. 

Such a stimulus was a clear recognition of the large and very damaging impact of the transition process in the Midlands to date, with several hundred jobs already lost and livelihoods destroyed. 

The Group welcomed the report’s emphasis on the need to fast track job creation projects and the need to develop greater clarity and efficiency around planning regulations relating to peat harvesting. 

Speaking in response to the report, Willie Noone of Siptu and Chair of the Bord na Móna Group of Unions, said the company and government must now move with urgency to set out a clear roadmap for transition in the region.

“For us, the report stresses the need to stop promising and start delivering for the workers and communities of the the Midlands. We know where we are. We know where we want to go in terms of decent jobs and new opportunities. What we don’t have is a clear roadmap that sets out how and when we move from one to the other. This report can help create that roadmap, if the company and government respond positively.

“For example, peat harvesting should be happening now and there is no legal or planning reason why workers cannot be actively engaged in harvesting at this moment, or starting the obligatory bog rehabilitation and decommissioning work. Unless this happens we will be looking at even more job losses.”

Ed Thompson of Unite said: “We welcome the emphasis on the need to inject both urgency and adequate funding into the process, both of which have been sadly lacking to date. In Spain, a Just Transition plan for the coal regions has been backed by €250 million in government funding. We need to see the same level of commitment in the Midlands.

Padraig Mooney, the Congress representative on the Midlands Regional Transition Team (MRTT) said: “The creation of a new forum for union employer engagement on job creation is a critical piece of the jigsaw and this recommendation must be acted on with urgency. In addition, the recommendations relating to the West Offaly (Shannonbridge), Lough Ree and Eddenderry power stations have considerable merit and could help secure their future.

“We call on all political parties involved in the current government formation talks and any incoming government to endorse these key recommendations and help deliver for the workers and communities of the Midlands.”

Darren Erangey of the Connect trade union said: “It is clear we need a proactive lead from the government to ensure a Just Transition for workers and communities across the country, through the creation of decent jobs, job security, new skills and new opportunities.  We have examples from across the globe that show a genuine Just Transition must be based on social dialogue, along with adequate resources and investment. It is time for both government and Bord na Móna to raise their ambition and deliver for the workers and communities of the Midlands. 

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Energy Sector Group comprises Siptu, Unite, Connect, Energy Services Union. 

For further information contact: Macdara Doyle, Coordinator: 087 9174171  

ENDS