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Brendan Ogle via Twitter

Watch: Union chief admits ESB staff are 'spoilt'

Brendan Ogle has come under fire for comments made in a speech earlier this year as ESB announced price hikes for consumers yesterday.

THE MOST SENIOR union official at the electricity company ESB has come under pressure today after comments he made back in May to a republican organisation emerged.

Brendan Ogle, the secretary of the ESB group of unions representing more than 7,000 workers at the electricity company, addressed the republican organisation Éirígí in May.

In a 20-minute speech he admitted that his members were “privileged and very lucky” describing examples of “gravy” that workers at state-owned ESB were given during the boom which allowed them to pay their mortgage off, buy “apartments in Bulgaria” and have “two or three cars”.

The comments emerged as ESB announced yesterday that electricity bills will rise by on average 12 per cent from October because of the rise in the wholesale price of gas over the past year, affecting some 1.2 million customers.

During the speech, Ogle also says: ”I’ve got a problem with the people that I represent who have power, because they also have money. They’re also – and they won’t mind me saying this because I say it to them often enough – they’re also spoilt.”

He also added:

The trade union movement collaborated in the creation of the wealth stroke debt and we made sure that the gap between that those who have and those who haven’t in society grew through the eighties, through the nineties, into the noughties to the day the IMF arrived on the door.

And the trade union movement and the Labour party collaborated in that for 25 years and none of us done anything about it.

Watch the speech in full here:

The speech has emerged after it was reported by Anne-Marie Walsh in today’s Irish Independent which quotes UNITE as saying Ogle was not giving the speech in his position as a union official but in a personal capacity.

The UNITE union would not comment further on the speech today when contacted by

Ogle, who is on secondment to the ESB group of unions from the UNITE trade union, is away on annual leave but it is thought he may be back in work next week.

ESB did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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