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Seasonal staff being abandoned by BNM hierarchy – Fitzmaurice

Seasonal staff are being abandoned by the hierarchy within Bord na Mona, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Following a board meeting this morning, BNM has confirmed that up to 230 employees in the Energy Business Unit will be temporarily released – with only permanent staff able to receive 100% of their basic salary on a 39-hour week through the Covid-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme.

Speaking on the matter, Fitzmaurice said: “While permanent employees will be able to maintain their links with the company, approximately 100 seasonal employees are being shown the door.

“It is my understanding that no application from BNM was submitted to keep these seasonal employees on through the wage subsidy scheme; which is shameful if true.

“Given that the Government is encouraging companies to maintain links with all employees through the wage subsidy scheme, it seems as if BNM – as a semi-state company – are willing to toss their temporary workers on the scrap heap.

“BNM is attributing today’s announcement to the impacts that the current Covid-19 crisis has had on its business, with a drop in demand for energy generally and energy prices.

“It stated that it has witnessed a drop in revenue from its power station in Edenderry, as well as the complete cessation in sales of peat to West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power in recent weeks – among other impacts.

“It is deplorable that BNM, as a company which recorded a profit of in excess of €41 million last year, are prepared to send these workers packing and leaving many with no option but to apply for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

“We have also have not heard confirmation on whether or not senior management within BNM are willing to take a pay cut in order to lighten the load on the lowest-paid workers.

“It is also worth noting that the permanent staff on the wage subsidy scheme will be taking a huge hit in wages, compared to what they would be on if normal production was in full flow.

“Meanwhile, the situation regarding applications to the wage subsidy scheme remains unchanged – with many workers eager to leave, but unable to do so due to a lack of deliberation.

“Minister Richard Bruton must come out and clarify his stance on this matter immediately, as well as address the delay surrounding the decision from An Bord Pleanala.

“These workers were promised a ‘just transition’. But it seems as if the BNM hierarchy has abandoned its most vulnerable staff and taken the easy option,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice TD 086-1914565