Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Strike threat withdrawn after talks

A strike threat has been averted at ESB after peace talks.

A threatened strike that would have seen ESB energy taken off the grid has been avoided after unions said their industrial dispute with management has been resolved.

Workers were poised to stage a walk-out on Monday December 16 in a row over the company's pension fund.

But the action has been averted after a weekend of crunch talks with union and management representatives.

Unions' withdrew the strike threat after claiming it had secured protections for the pension scheme.

The resolution was facilitated by the Labour Relations Commission.

A statement on behalf of the unions involved in the negotiations said staff had been subjected to unfair public criticism during the dispute.

"The ESB workers have been publicly vilified for nothing more than protecting themselves and their families against an attempted destruction of their bought and paid for pension rights," it claimed.

The statement also praised the "unity and determination" of the workers, their representatives and the wider trade union movement.

If the strike had gone ahead, a ll power generated by the ESB would have been off the grid when the action kicked in.

The Government had said the state-owned electricity operator EirGrid would have attempted to minimise disruption to energy customers caused by any potential strike.

ESB welcomed the withdrawal of the strike notice by the ESB Group of Unions.

"A strike would have had extremely damaging consequences for electricity consumers, businesses, the economy and the company," it said in a statement.

The company said its "financial strength" had been protected by the settlement.

It also expressed regret for the "unnecessary worry, inconvenience and uncertainty caused by the threat of power outages".

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte also welcomed the resolution and thanked the LRC for its intervention.

He said the settlement represented " unqualified good news".

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