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UNITE official fully expects ESB workers to vote for industrial action

Jimmy Kelly says workers had already indicated their desire to strike if the government tried to dispose of it.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

UNITE’S REGIONAL SECRETARY has said he expects ESB workers to vote in favour of industrial action, over the government’s plan to sell off a minority stake in the energy provider.

Jimmy Kelly, who leads the union in Ireland, said his union’s members had been clear “for a long time” on their intention that any move by the State to dispose of the company would lead to industrial action.

“We’ve got a clear decision from all the unions which says that if the government go ahead [with proposals to sell some of the company], we will ballot for industrial action,” he told Morning Ireland this morning.

“We can let this roll over us, we can pretend the emperor has clothes, or we can take action,” he added.

Kelly said he believed his members were “up for the fight” and wanted to ensure that the staff were shown the “decency and respect” they deserved.

“This company pays a dividend to the State. This is not a lame duck company that needs to be sold off, this is a profitable company.”

UNITE is the largest trade union among ESB staff, representing some 7,000 workers there. Its ballots will ask members to vote for industrial action up to, and including, a full withdrawal of labour over the proposed sale.

Other unions have yet to indicate whether they will follow suit by balloting their members, though a conference of all ESB trade unions unanimously passed a motion requiring them to ballot their members in the event that the State tried to sell a stake.

The sale of a minority stake in the union was agreed by the cabinet yesterday, though the government insists it will still retain full direct control of the company.

UNITE to ballot members on industrial action over ESB sell off >

Government decides to sell minority stake in ESB >

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Gavan Reilly

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