Taoiseach Enda Kenny came out today in opposition to the possible ESB strike that could lead to power cuts over the month of December. He said talk of a possible ESB strike action would “cause unease and concern for people” if the strike would result in power cuts across the country.
The dispute arises over an agreement to address the €1.6 billion deficit in ESB’s pension scheme with Mr. Kenny hoping that unions will meet on Thursday and that they will “engage fully and comprehensively” in the talks with the ESB.
The Taoiseach said that the dispute was not about wage cuts while continuously insisting the ESB pension fund is in good shape.
Fianna Faíl also came out in opposition against the possible strike. A spokesman said that “there is a genuine fear and anxiety” amongst business’ and the most vulnerable people of society.
Speaking to News Anois, Brendan Hennessey of Saint Vincent De Paul warned of the effect that this strike could have on the most vulnerable in society, especially the “elderly people in isolation who rely on electricity for heating and can’t get or carry alternative heating such as coal”. Hennessey also that those who rely solely on electricity might need to turn to “unhealthy alternatives such as fast food” in order to feed their families.
MANY voluntary organisations fear that the industrial action voted by the workers of the ESB could affect the most vulnerable in the run up to Christmas.
Brendan Hennessey from Saint Vincent De Paul warned that the main concern
facing the organisation would be ‘elderly people in isolation who rely on
electricity for heating and can’t get or carry alternative heating such as coal’.
Hennessey also said that people who rely on electricity for cooking ‘might have
to rely on unhealthy alternatives such as fast food’ in order to feed their families.
The fears come in the wake of a staff vote that took place yesterday to take
action over a €1.7 billion deficit in the company’s pension scheme.
The secretary of the ESB Group of Unions Brendan Ogle has said that industrial
action will lead to disruption of service and the possibility of power outages.
Discussion over what actions to take will be held on Friday with many fearing
that power outages may affect the most vulnerable over the winter.
The Group of Unions yesterday confirmed that the results of a ballot showed that
87.5% of members voted in favour of industrial action.
Ogle said ‘If those workers were to withdraw their labour, I’ve no doubt that there
would be a disruption to the service’.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howling said any dispute
would affect Ireland’s economic recovery and job creation.