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ESB claims strike by Independent Workers Union is unlawful

The IWU are taking the action over a claimed lack of consultation on outsourced work to the private sector.

Image: Niall Carson

ESB NETWORKS HAS criticised plans for a 24-hour strike by a group of network technicians at the company who are aligned to the Independent Workers Union. 

The industrial action, taken by the group, escalated from a work to rule to a 24-hour strike which will last from Friday at 8am to 8am on Saturday. 

It is understood the IWU, which is not recognised by the ESB, has taken the action over a claim that there has been a lack of consultation over work to be outsourced to the private sector.

It had offered to defer the strike if the company agrees to go to the Workplace Relations Commission, which it has so far refused to do.

In a statement the company criticised the action and outlined that it did not recognise the IWU as a representative body for workers. 

“This action is unlawful because IWU have balloted their members to progress a claim that has not been made to ESB or the Labour Court.  This is a legal matter, and we are dealing with it as such. 

“The IWU is not affiliated to either the ESB Group of Unions (GoU) or the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)  

“We continue to deal with our recognised trade unions through the long-established industrial relations framework, which has supported ESB and employees in meeting the challenges of a changing energy industry. We continue to engage with all of our employees through normal work channels.

“The four unions affiliated to the ESB GoU have confirmed that they are not in dispute with ESB and will continue to provide emergency cover,” it said. 

The ESB claimed that there “has been limited impact to electricity customers as a result of the industrial action to date” but apologised for any inconvenience to customers.

“ESB Networks continues to monitor the situation closely and ensure that the necessary contingency plans are in place to minimise the effects on its operations and customers as much as possible.  

“ESB Networks remains committed to resolving this matter. It is exploring all options, and has notified the IWU that it intends to take legal action in relation to this dispute.  

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“ESB Networks takes this opportunity to remind the public to stay safe and stay clear of electricity lines and poles,” it said.

The IWU claims that there are approximately 1,250 network technicians employed by the ESB with more than 500 of those workers are members of the union.

A statement from the IWU claim they were striking to prevent the privatisation of the ESB.

“The work of Network Technicians is being handed out to private contractors. The technicians have not been consulted (as is required by the Consultation and Information Act 2006) as to what areas of their work are to be contracted out and so they have refused to cooperate with the process since last Monday. 

“From today they will organise a series of work stoppages, in order to prevent the elimination of their jobs, the abandonment of apprenticeship training and the eventual privatisation of the company in order to make profits for vulture funds and greedy corporate entities.

“The people of Ireland do not need another Telecom Eireann like disaster,” the statement claims. 

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