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Tara Mines in Navan, Co Meath

Voting underway on deal to reopen Tara Mines in Co Meath

The results will be counted next Friday.

WORKERS AT TARA Mines are voting on a deal to reopen the Co Meath mine that has been closed since last July.

The deal was reached following talks at the Workplace Relations Commission between management and unions.

Members of three trade unions -SIPTU, Unite, and Connect – are currently voting on the agreement, which includes around 150 voluntary redundancies.

Employees will return to work on a phased basis and it could take up to six months for the mines to fully reopen. 

Voting started last night after a general meeting and will conclude next Friday, with a ballot count at 10am.

There will be three individually declared results from the three unions involved.

Speaking to The Journal, SIPTU’s John Regan said he didn’t know how Tara Mines’ owner, Swedish company Boliden, would react if the respective unions voted differently to one another.

“Within the document, the company is saying there has to be a full agreement,” said Regan.

“We didn’t extract anything from them as to what they meant by that,” he added.

“We don’t know what the outcome of the ballot will be and we just have to wait until next Friday to see whether any union has accepted or rejected it.”

Swedish parent company Boliden announced the temporary closure of the facility last June, and closure took effect in July.

This resulted in around 650 workers being temporarily laid off.

Boliden said it made this decision due to “operational challenges” including a “decline in the price of zinc, high energy prices, and general cost inflation”.

Regan told The Journal that the deal “gives people the opportunity to get back into the mine”.

However, he added: “It’s not a deal that would normally be negotiated, in some ways the deal was dictated.

“It’s not your normal negotiations and arriving with consensus and normal industrial relations applying.”

While he noted that the deal “protects core pay in the main”, he acknowledged that there are losses of income, buy-outs of different types of bonuses and people moving off shift work and on to day work, which would result in these workers losing their shift premiums.

When asked about the 150 or so voluntary redundancies that will be required, Regan said that the “production side of mining ran at 2.6 million tonnes a year, but that’s now reduced to 1.8 million”.

“The manpower numbers have to reflect the drop in tonnage and output and production requirements,” said Regan.

He added that the company pitched voluntary redundancy numbers at 150 because there was an early retirement package in July last year and 50 people took up that offer.

“Originally the company was looking for a 200 reduction in headcount, that’s now 150 and it remains to be seen whether they will get that.

“It’s voluntary and there is an absolute commitment that there will be no compulsory redundancies.”

He added that the three unions are recommending acceptance of the deal.

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