New Midlands Bog Restoration Scheme is 'Positive Move' says Energy Unions, Delivery of Quality Jobs Vital for Success

25 Nov 2020

Midlands Bog

Unions representing workers in the energy sector - including in Bord na Móna - have welcomed as ‘broadly positive’ new plans for peatlands restoration in the Midlands and have called for full engagement with the company and relevant authorities in order “to maximise the employment and community dividends of the scheme,” as part of a Just Transition. 

This follows the government decision to approve funding of €108m to repurpose some 80,000 acres of bog, to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions.  Bord na Móna is to contribute an additional €18 million to the scheme.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Energy Sector Group said the restoration plan could deliver real gains for workers and communities in the region but had to guarantee quality jobs, in accordance with a Just Transition. 

Speaking on behalf of the Bord na Móna Group of Unions, Willie Noone of Siptu said the scheme could prove to be “a welcome change” for Midlands communities and workers in Bord na Mona.

“It is positive to hear news about saving and maintaining jobs, rather than closures and job losses, which has been the dominant narrative up to this point. 

“What we need now is full dialogue with the company and with relevant government departments to maximise the employment dividend of this plan and ensure we retain the highest possible number of quality jobs.

“We also need to establish a very clear and direct linkage with the existing staff in Bord na Móna and with retaining existing employment conditions. There is little point in creating new jobs as part of this plan or protecting employment if people are going to find themselves on lower annual wages and in less secure jobs. 

“At this juncture it appears that the majority of the 350 jobs mentioned will be seasonal in nature and the litmus test for the affected Bord na Móna workers will be their ability to attain work that will retain their earnings.  

“We believe these issues can be resolved through proper engagement and dialogue and then we can we start delivering a genuine Just Transition in the region," Mr Noone said. 

Speaking on behalf of Unite, Ed Thompson said the news was positive but it had to lead to the creation of decent work and sustainable jobs. 

“This is potentially very good news for the workers, the communities and the Midlands regions. If we are to adhere to the Just Transition approach, then we need to ensure that no one is left worse off or no community is left behind, as part of this initiative.” 

The Congress of Trade Unions’ representative on the Midlands Regional Transition Team (MRTT), Padraig Mooney said that similar standards in terms of employment must also apply to the range of additional projects in the Midlands that were recently approved for funding under the Just Transition Fund. 

“The approval of some €28m in funding for the 47 projects is also good news and they must be held to the same standard in terms of employment creation and job quality. 

“It would be contrary to the principles and practice of Just Transition to fund initiatives that did not deliver quality jobs for the community. We need to see mechanisms in place that will ensure this.”

For further information contact: 

Macdara Doyle: 087 9174171

Willie Noone: 087 6474323