Bord na Móna employees classed as ‘essential workers’

Bord na Móna employees have been classed as ‘essential workers’ and are therefore, where necessary, permitted to continue working – whilst adhering to the HSE’s strict health and safety protocols on Covid-19.

While the Government has directed that citizens should “stay at home” until April 12, those working in areas deemed “essential services” are exempt from this latest restriction, as these services are considered vital to the country during this unprecedented public health emergency.

Numerous sectors listed under this category include: agriculture; food production; machinery; and electricity, gas and water. Front-line workers in health, transport, communications, public administration and many others are also excluded from the escalated national restrictions (albeit under specific guidelines).

In a statement to AgriLand, a spokesperson for Bord na Móna said: “Bord na Móna provides essential services as detailed under the new public health guidelines published by the Department of An Taoiseach.

“In line with guidelines, wherever possible, all Bord na Móna employees who can work from home have been facilitated to do so.

The company has provided those employees involved in the provision of essential services, and who cannot work from home, with letters confirming this is the case.

It was also explained that health and safety information, including HSE advice, regarding the national effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 is being communicated to all employees on an ongoing basis.

“Social distancing, and other key protective measures, have also been implemented across the company.

“Specific groups of employees are also receiving other relevant guidance regarding health and safety information pertaining to their business unit and function,” the statement concludes.

Peat protest

The situation comes less than two months after hundreds of Bord na Móna workers – alongside their families, friends, neighbours and communities – rallied for a trade-union backed Bord na Móna workers protest in opposition to the looming closure of the midlands peat industry.

Speaking at the protest – that took place outside ESB’s peat-fired West Offaly Power Plant in Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly, on Saturday, February 1 – independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice compared the timeline of the Irish Government’s ‘just transition’ away from fossil fuel-derived power, to that of Germany’s plan to phase out coal-fired power stations over the next 19 years.

Last November, it was announced that ESB’s Lough Ree power station (located in Lanesboro, Co. Longford) and its West Offaly power station – both supplied with peat from Bord na Móna – will shut down at the end of 2020 – 10 years earlier than originally planned – in a bid to help decarbonise the country’s economy in line with EU targets.

More than 1,400 Bord na Móna jobs – both direct and indirect – are believed to be at risk from the closures.

Plans to demolish both of the power stations – that have brought generational employment to the region since 1946 – are due to go ahead at the end of the year.

In a previous statement to AgriLand an ESB spokesperson confirmed the scheduled demolition, outlining: “As required by our planning permission and environmental licence, the station at West Offaly…and the station at Lough Ree will be demolished and the sites remediated following cessation of operations.”