Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen says decisive action is needed to secure the future of Bord na Móna. Deputy Cowen made the comments following the appearance of Bord na Móna executives before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications.
“At the committee meeting I raised a number of serious concerns that people in the midlands have regarding the future direction that Bord na Móna is taking” said Deputy Cowen.
“Currently the Bord na Móna briquette factories in Littleton and Derrinlough have been mothballed due to an oversupply of fuel, largely due to the uncompetitive price of briquettes in Ireland as compared to Northern Ireland. This situation has come about as a result of the decision by the Government to include briquettes in the Carbon Tax.
“This decision has resulted in a hike in the cost of briquettes, with suppliers choosing to import cheaper fuel from the north. At the meeting I pressed Bord na Móna Chairman John Horgan to write to the Government to outline that the changes it introduced were short-sighted and need to be reversed. This is the only way that the future of the briquette factories in Littleton and Derrinlough can be secured.
Deputy Cowen also raised concerns over the cost cutting proposals that executives are seeking to introduce following the ending of the Public Service Obligation payment.
“Executives at Bord na Móna are seeking to implement a far reaching cost cutting plan following the phasing out of the PSO payment. The cost cutting plan is forcing employees to reapply for their jobs, and in the process accept poorer work conditions and a massive reduction in pay of up to 30%.
“However at the committee meeting it was confirmed that the ESB is willing to work with Bord na Móna to ensure its power generating stations are adequately supplied with fuel. This deal has not been factored into the cost cutting proposals that Bord na Móna executives are seeking to implement. In light of this development, Bord na Móna must go back to the drawing board and devise a more realistic cost cutting plan.
“The chairman of Bord na Móna has significant experience in labour relations, with 12 years spent in the Labour Court and 5 years as its chairman. With this in mind it is disappointing to note that management is attempting to undermine the traditional industrial relations channels that have been in existence at the company for decades.
“Currently the first course of action that Bord na Móna management takes is to go straight to the Labour Relations Commission to resolve any industrial disputes that arise. This tactic is hugely damaging to morale and is only serving to undermine the efforts being made by all to secure a bright future for the company” said Deputy Cowen.