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650 workers have been impacted after the largest zinc mine in Europe - the Tara Mine in Co Meath - temporarily suspended operations, Alamy Stock Photo

Siptu to meet for talks at WRC over Tara Mines shutdown

Union representatives have called on the government to speed up the delivery of support measures for impacted staff.

SIPTU REPRESENTATIVES HAVE called on the Government to expedite measures to protect the livelihoods of workers at Tara Mines and the long-term future of the facility in Co Meath, ahead of talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) this morning.

In a statement on 13 June, Swedish parent company Boliden confirmed that production and exploration at the mine would cease temporarily and the mine would be placed “under care and maintenance” within a month.

This would involve the loss of 650 jobs at the Navan mine, which is Europe’s largest zinc mine.

Siptu TEAC Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said yesterday: “Trade union representatives met with a government delegation which included the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, and Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee”.

“The meeting was called by unions in order to make clear to the Government that measures must be introduced to safeguard the livelihoods of our members and ensure the long-term future of Tara Mines. 

“It was clear from the meeting that the Government is committed to exploring what measures it can take to provide financial assistance to this essential economic asset.”

“However, due to EU prohibitions on certain types of state aid this will be a complex task and it is extremely unlikely any measures can be in place prior to the scheduled temporary closure of the mine on 14 July.”

He added: “The union representatives also raised the issue of enhanced social protection measures for our members in the event of a lay off situation. Currently, Ireland has a social protection system outside of the European mainstream which does not include a payment of a percentage of a workers’ previous earnings. 

“The Government has committed to continuing engagement with unions on these matters which will involve all relevant departments.”

Siptu Sector Organiser, John Regan, said:

“Boliden, the owners of Tara Mines, has yet to present to unions with a satisfactory outline of what it envisages providing its employees in terms of a retainer and other payments in the event of a lay off.”

“This is a completely unacceptable situation and does not bode well in terms of where this dispute is heading.”

Minister Coveney met with Meath TDs last week to discuss measures for supporting the impacted staff.

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