Workers at Bord na Móna have confirmed they are considering industrial action over the company’s decision to lay off around 150 workers.
This morning, the company said it was immediately laying off 78 employees at its Mountdillon operation in County Longford.
A further 70 permanent workers are to be put on temporary unpaid lay-off from next Thursday until the plant reopens.
The company said it was forced to take the action after the ESB suspended operations at the nearby Lough Ree Power Plant due to concerns over the discharge of hot water into the River Shannon.
The Mountdillon works supplies peat to the power plant.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been investigating the plant over the high temperature of the cooling water it pumps into the river and it is believed there are potential prosecution pending.
In a statement this afternoon, the Bord na Móna (BNM) Group of Unions said members would meet with management tomorrow.
The group’s secretary Willie Noone, said it is shocking that “this semi-state company has informed staff that they are to be laid off indefinitely with only seven days-notice.”
“The unions have a collective agreement that is only five weeks old, which clearly states that an engagement must take place with representatives prior to any job losses occurring.
“This news will send shockwaves throughout Bord na Móna and industrial action may be the only avenue open to union representatives in order to defend our members’ conditions of employment as the company is not adhering to collective agreements.”
Bord na Móna
Bord na Móna said it understand the “difficulties and impact” the decision will have on workers and said it would “work through this process and review all options” when it meets with the group of unions tomorrow.
“It is unfortunate that the Company has had to take this course of action and it looks forward to a resolution of the issues at the earliest opportunity,” it said.
The ESB has said it trying to change its environmental licence regarding the temperature of cooling water it pumps into the Shannon.
It said the reopening of the plant is dependent on the outcome of an environmental licence review being carried out by the EPA.
There are concerns the hot water could pose a danger to marine life in the river.