Workers at Bord na Móna’s peat briquette plant in Littleton should be offered the most generous redundancy package possible, to reward them for their long years of dedicated service, according to Independent TD Michael Lowry.
In May, it was announced that 69 full time jobs will be phased out over 12 months, with the plant to close in April 2018. Another 56 people employed in peat harvesting will also be affected.
Deputy Lowry told the Tipperary Star this week that the redundancy package being offered so far is for those availing of voluntary redundancy. However, the compulsory redundancy package “isn’t up to standard. It’s a meagre package, and doesn’t take into account the years of loyalty, dedication, and service, the workforce have given.”
Bord na Móna cannot negotiate a better package without it first being approved by senior government, namely the Department of Energy, and then the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe.
Minister Donohoe has now agreed to allow Bord na Móna to negotiate “within the parameters of an enhanced package,” says Deputy Lowry.
Delegations from both sides were due to meet again this Tuesday, August 22nd, at which a better offer may be put on the table. “But it might take a couple of meetings before they reach a conclusion,” says Deputy Lowry.
The members with the longest years’ service will be the most likely to opt out, and progress is being made in relation to younger staff who want to transfer to other jobs. The company is examining a number of projects that would give employment, and that employment will be given to existing staff.
Separately, there are huge concerns that the 10,000 acre bog, stretching from Killenaule to Errill in Co. Laois, could become prey to intruders and vandals. Deputy Lowry said he has been assured by Bord na Móna that when production ceases next year, that as much of the bog as possible will be utilised for horticultural purposes, and that the area will be secured. “It will not just be open for anybody to drive in and park up,” concluded Deputy Lowry.