FOLLOWING OFFICIAL STRIKE notice issued by ESB unions this afternoon, multinational companies have sought reassurances that electricity supply will not be broken in the run up to Christmas.
The ESB served notice of strike action from 16 December, which they state could lead to service disruption and power outages.
IDA Ireland, the state agency responsible for attracting foreign investment into Ireland, said today that it has been contacted by client companies in recent days expressing concern about the implications of power cuts in the period ahead.
They stated that the threatened power outages could severely impact upon the operations of leading foreign companies based in Ireland and hurt Ireland’s international reputation.
CEO of IDA Ireland, Barry O’Leary said:
While clearly IDA would not want to comment on the specific issues at stake, it is important that the potential implications of interrupting the electricity supply are clearly voiced.
At any one time, we will have tens of companies in the process of making a decision to move parts of their business to Ireland. If we can’t guarantee something as basic as electricity, these investments are less likely to come to Ireland.
The IDA added that their clients companies are seeking reassurance that electricity supply will not be broken, adding that some of the biggest users of electricity in the country with manufacturers, data centres and biotechnology campuses consuming many megawatts (MWs) per day between them.
Speaking from Korea, where he is currently on an investment mission, O’Leary said that Ireland will lose credibility with international companies if a power outage goes ahead, stating “the resulting impact on investment could be significant’’.
The implications of a power supply interruption for IDA clients in Ireland could prompt a rethink by some on Ireland as a location for foreign investment.
I hope this situation can be resolved as quickly as possible and that no lasting damage is done to Ireland’s international reputation.
Retail Excellence Ireland, Ireland’s largest retail industry body warned last week that retail businesses will withdraw all support for ESB in the new year should the threatened strike go ahead.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) said they were “extremely disappointed” that it had got this far, stating that it will do “untold damage to the Irish retail sector”.
Fitzsimons said, “If strike action goes ahead, I have no doubt that stores will be forced to close completely during those days power is turned off. Most shops would not have a source of natural light, shop tills would be down and would be unworkable and food retailers will lose a huge amount of stock”.
He added that the industrial action taken by ESB will cause job losses in the retail sector, with many shops going out of business.
“This is a crucial period for retailers, and is probably one of the most important Christmas periods in the last decade. The industry is very fragile and anything that undermines their business will do insurmountable damage”.
He added that if power outages occur for one, two or three days, many businesses will be forced to close and will remain closed.
Age Action Ireland said the possibility of power outages was very worrying, stating that if it goes ahead family, friends and neighbours need to rally around the elderly.
A spokesperson for the agency said that the HSE need to get a plan of action in place as soon as possible, with a list of the elderly people that they know are reliant on power for medically reasons, for the use of their nebulisers and other medical equipment.
“We are entering into the coldest part of the year and if elderly people cannot cook at least one warm meal a day then there are serious concerns. We are hoping it doesn’t get to that stage,” he said.
Following notice of strike action being served today, the Group of Unions said they will now establish a ‘Disputes Committee’ to manage all aspects of the anticipated industrial action/strike including emergency service provision.
In a statement they said the unions outlined that our mandate is to protect their current pension agreements, not negotiate a new one, “and we will not do so,” they said.
The statement continued:
Moreover, all dialogue now will be focused on pension issues only. It is important in the national interest that dialogue continues and that ESB is brought to it’s senses.
In order to assist this dialogue, the Group will issue no public comment until further notice. ESB have agreed likewise and it would be helpful if the Government/owner adopted a similar stance.
Failure to do so, and continued wrong and misleading comments from that quarter, can only undermine and call in to question the now continuing dialogue