7 June 2007 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

ESB workers threaten strike

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has called on the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey to abandon plans to close ESB power stations as part of the break up of ESB.
Six thousand ESB workers opposed to the transfer of the electricity grid from ESB to Eirgrid, threatened strike action if the plan goes ahead. The transfer will result in the eventual closure of at least three power stations by 2010. The ESB has until 30 June to tell the Commission for Energy Regulation which of it’s 19 power stations it wishes to close as part of an agreement to reduce it’s share of the Irish energy market to 40% by 2010. The workers feel that Tarbert power station in County Limerick, which employs 130 people, will be one of the plants to definitely close. Other power stations whose future is uncertain include Dublin’s Poolbeg oil and gas fired station, North Wall oil and gas fired station and Great Island oil power station in County Wexford. The unions involved have consistently said that the privatisation of the energy sector will result in the price of electricity going up. Brendan Ogle of the ATGWU has said “The ESB does not have the agreement of the workers on this. It is not in the national interest and it is reducing the share value.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Natural Resources Martin Ferris TD said any downgrading of the ESB brings with it the threat of privatisation.
“I have no doubt that the closure of power stations and the hand over of the electricity grid to Eirgrid is the beginning of the privatisation process of certain profitable parts of the ESB”, he said.
“Evidence from other countries shows that privatisation brings no benefits to the consumer and the only people who gain anything is the companies.   Therefore Sinn Féin will continue to oppose the break up of ESB and I would call on Minister Dempsey to abandon these plans and avert strike action from the workers.
“This plan is not in the national interest and does not have the support of the workers.  It should be abandoned now”, Ferris said.

Shorts workers get £1.2m compensation 

Workers at Bombardier Shorts aircraft factory have been awarded compensation worth £1.2m after a long-running dispute over pay. The workers who are members of Unite trade union were losing pay after the firm changed the way it calculated holiday entitlements following an industrial tribunal decision in 2001 that said the company had been underpaying workers since 1995. The company then rectified this situation but only for staff who were employed pre-1995, despite consistent calls from the trade unions involved to implement the tribunal decision correctly.
Regional Secretary of Unite Peter Williamson said; “The failure of Bombardier Shorts to fulfill its commitment to righting the losses after the 2001 tribunal decision meant that our members continued to lose holiday pay entitlement. As a result the average payout the company must now make is £600. Some employees will receive significantly more. While we are extremely pleased that the issue has finally been resolved, it is a pity that the employer did not see fit to settle it immediately after the tribunal ruling. If it had then our members would not have continued to lose money that was rightfully theirs’ and the company itself would not have to pay both their and the unions legal costs.”
Unions lash Celtic Link’s Bosses
Unions affiliated to the International Transport Federation have lashed out at ferry operator Celtic Link this week in a row over pay and conditions for staff. A dozen union officials then delivered a letter delivered a letter to the privately-owned ferry company’s Liverpool offices urging the company to end its ‘poverty’ pay rates. The ITF have claimed that the crew on board the ship ‘Celtic Star’ that operates between Liverpool and Dublin are being paid as little as £1.90 per hour. ITF Co-coordinator Norrie McVicar said, “We want operators like Celtic Link to co-operate with us to end poverty pay and introduce decent employment standards.”

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