Bord na Mona workers protest in Newbridge

Bord na Mona workers from Kildare, Offaly, Laois and Galway held an unofficial protest outside company headquarters in Newbridge on Thursday morning last, October 18, as the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resource Pat Rabitte arrived for a Board of Directors meeting to discuss the future of the company.

Bord na Mona workers from Kildare, Offaly, Laois and Galway held an unofficial protest outside company headquarters in Newbridge on Thursday morning last, October 18, as the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resource Pat Rabitte arrived for a Board of Directors meeting to discuss the future of the company.

Workers gathered on Main Street with banners that read ‘For Peat’s sake Gabriel [referring to CEO Gabriel D’Arcy], leave some warmth in our fires this Christmas’, ‘Workers join dole queues’, and ‘No confidence in CEO’.

It is understood that the company’s Group of Unions circulated a motion of no confidence in CEO Mr D’Arcy prior to the meeting, after a number of job losses were announced at the compa last month, including 105 seasonal workers.

The job losses were made as part of a contingency plan in response to the company’s worst ever peat harvest.

A further 93 workers, 85 of whom are based in Bord na Mona headquarters in Newbridge, were placed on shorter working week schedules from October 1 last.

“This is an unofficial protest to do with the recent lay offs and the general way in which the company is being run,” said one protester, who did not wished to be named. “Eighty five administration staff from Newbridge have been cut. The seasonal workers have been put on a one day week earning €68 a week with the back up of social welfare.”

One such worker, who has been put on a three day week, spoke to the Leinster Leader from the picket line.

“I can’t cope,” said the administration worker who did not wish to be named. “I have a child starting college and I will have to live on €60 a week. I can’t even afford heating. I would travel to other plants to work rather than sit on my behind for those two days.”

The protestors called for the resignation of the company CEO, claiming that “the company is losing money”.

Minister Pat Rabitte failed to comment to the Leinster Leader on the protest or on the unions’ vote of no confidence in the CEO but stated that he had a “very fruitful meeting with the Board, including the worker directors, and the senior management. The discussion was forward looking and very productive”.

Meanwhile the Board of Bord na Móna agreed to extend the contract of the CEO Mr D’Arcy for a further period of two years at last Thursday’s meeting.

“I am pleased that the board has made this decision and that Gabriel D’Arcy has agreed to continue his work at the helm of the company,” said Bord na Móna chairman John Horgan “It is vital that we have a strong management team providing the experienced continued leadership necessary to deal with all the issues facing Bord na Móna at this time.”

Earlier in the year, a pay claim, by members of the Group of Unions, was not awarded by the company.

- Paula Campbell