Management at Bord na Móna have confirmed yesterday (Monday) that they will go back to the Labour Court in an effort to resolve the on-going industrial relations dispute over pay. Newbridge workers who were joined by a number of employees from Laois and Westmeath picketed for two days last week outside headquarters over a 3.5 per cent pay claim due under the towards 2016 transitional agreement.
Union official Brian Gormley vowed from the picket line on Thursday that workers are in it for the long haul.
“We’re looking for our money,” he said while a Bord na Móna management meeting took place during the strike. “We want our 3.5 per cent. The Labour Court said we had a legitimate claim. We are open to talks. This is a national pay agreement that has not been paid. This dispute is focused only on the national pay agreement - we are not going to say this will change management style - they may learn something from it but we’re here to get our money and we are here for the long haul. Bord na Mona have to come forward with proposals. This will be resolved eventually.”
Strike action was deferred in April after the company offered a pay workers €1,000 each and an increase of 3.5 per cent which was outstanding since 2008.
The offer from the company was that the increase would take the form of a 1.75 percent increase in pay and 1.75 increase linked to productivity in a performance related pay review. However a company ballot voted against the offer and workers first went out on a one day work stoppage last month.
“The performance related pay is a difficult concept,” he added. “People didn’t believe they could trust the company to see the money in their wage packets. The company has become belligerent over the past few years with new management. It is either ‘our way or the high way and we’re on the high way’. We have to get our money and I think we should stay until we have got it.”
A Bord na Móna spokesman said that since the Labour Court Recommendation was issued on May 9, 2011, the Company and the Group of Unions have engaged in lengthy discussions both locally and with the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission in an effort to resolve this dispute.
Following further consideration and in order to find a resolution to the dispute, the Company believes that the matter should be referred back to the Labour Court for further investigation and recommendation. As per normal practice we would expect that no further industrial action would take place during the course of such a process. The company will not be making any further comment pending the outcome of this initiative.
Meanwhlie one elderly worker on the picket line in Newbridge last Thursday, who wished to remain nameless, but has been with the company for 38 years said the last time he went out on strike was in 1976.
“We have had industrial peace since 1976,” he said. “We don’t want to be here but an agreement has not been reached and that is the main reason. We have been pushed to the wall and we have to continue where we are going. A company won’t go forward unless it honours it’s commitments. Most of the focus in this company is on the people working with the peat but it should be on the people at the top of the company who are earning massive amounts of money along with company cars, expense accounts and bonuses.”
Peat harvesting in Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Roscommon and Longford has been affected by the strike.