Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl, has urged the ESB Unions to call off their threatened strike action next month.  He described the threat as ‘simply wrong’, and warned of the impact it would have on the tentative progress that the country’s economy is making.

ESB unions are set to serve strike notice this Friday in a dispute over the pension fund deficit at the company.

Deputy Ó Fearghaíl commented, “It seems to me that there has been a needless escalation in the dispute between ESB management and their Unions. While the staff have legitimate concerns about the deficit in the company’s pension fund, there is no immediate threat to jobs or employee’s pay.  Moving to strike action in this context and at a time when the wider issue of pension provision requires non-partisan national debate is simply wrong.

“My concern would be that this dramatic escalation points to an ideological agenda, rather than prudent leadership and I would call on wiser heads within ESB to recognise the damage that this action would do to the company’s case in wider society.  At the moment the ESB pension scheme is solvent and by 2018 it is hoped the scheme will be in surplus. Surely any dispute the unions have with management can be resolved by going through the available dispute resolution mechanisms.

“There is genuine fear and anxiety that homes and businesses throughout the county will have their electricity supply cut off in the lead-up to Christmas. Retailers who are already struggling depend for their survival on a solid Christmas trade.  Any disruption would be very damaging for the sector.

“Some of the rhetoric that has fed into the debate has been singularly unhelpful and counterproductive for ESB workers.  While some individuals may relish the opportunity for ideological confrontation, the majority of ESB workers and their families would be much better served by an approach more focussed on achieving agreement.”