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Head of main ESB union faced no-confidence motion after pay talks - one that was never acted upon

More than 50% of electrical union TEEU’s ESB technician members expressed no confidence in Paddy Kavanagh in March 2017.

shutterstock_402537220 Source: Shutterstock

THE HEAD OF the country’s main electrical union faced a no-confidence motion in the wake of crucial pay talks last year – but the motion was never considered or acted upon.

Connect, formerly TEEU (Technical Electrical and Engineering Union), repeatedly balloted its members to approve a pay agreement that had been put on the table by the company in January of 2017.

In the wake of this and the acceptance of that pay deal by the workers, several of the union’s chapters tabled a petition regarding a motion of no confidence in Paddy Kavanagh, the union’s general secretary since 2016.

That petition list and expression of no confidence was endorsed by one of TEEU’s branches, and was signed by more than 400 of the company’s 800 network technicians (NTs) who were with TEEU at the time, a greater than 50% ballot.

The generic text of the motion read:

This letter is an expression of our “Vote of No Confidence” in the TEEU General Secretary Brother Paddy Kavanagh due to his failure to represent the requests of his members. We understand the severity of this decision and did not arrive at it hastily.

2 Connect general secretary Paddy Kavanagh Source: LinkedIn

Not on the agenda

However the no confidence motion was never considered by the union’s EMC (Executive Management Committee) due to a technicality, as it wasn’t placed on the agenda for the meeting of the company that it was presented at.

“You’re talking more than half of the technicians in the union, the main electrical union in the country, expressing dissatisfaction with how that organisation is being run,” a union source said.

“That’s significant whatever way you look at it. It’s representative of the feelings of the workers at the company.”

Connect/TEEU was contacted by TheJournal.ie with regard to the motion of no confidence – no reply had been received at the time of publication.

In the wake of the no confidence motion being tabled, an exodus of ESB workers began from the TEEU. Much of the dissatisfaction stemmed from the way in which the negotiations with the ESB regarding the January 2017 pay deal had been handled, something they believed would lead to a two-tier pay structure at the company, a red-line issue with many union members.

File Pics Staff at the ESB have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action in a row over a 1.6 billion deficit in the company pension scheme. Source: Gareth Chaney/Rollingnews.ie

More than 550 employees left the union, having tendered their resignations en masse, from March 2017.

Expelled

250 of those members subsequently joined Connect’s sister union Siptu, only to be expelled from the organisation in July of this year on foot of an objection from the former.

Transferring between the two unions is prohibited by a deal known as the TUF (Trade Union Federation) agreement. The workers argued their actions as a case of resigning their membership, as opposed to an attempted transfer, hence not in breach of the agreement.

It has since emerged that the 200 ESB technicians that were with Siptu prior to the influx of former TEEU members are intent on leaving the union themselves in solidarity with the other workers.

However, that move is not expected to happen before a crucial vote on work practices within the company, due to take place in the next month, in order to leave all members entitled to a vote.

“Of the 1,500 craft and technician workers with the ESB at present, half of them are in no union,” a source said.

That is a serious number. That’s the big story. Five years ago it would have been unheard of.

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