Transitioning from fossil fuel reliance as climate action steps up a gear

The matter of Just Transition and its impact on Bord na Móna workers was raised at the Joint Committee on Climate Action during its official launch of the final, cross-party report ‘Climate Change: A Cross-Party Consensus for Action’ on Tuesday, April 16.

During proceedings deputy Bríd Smith of the People Before Profit party said there was a “lack of transition” for Bord na Móna workers and they had “been treated abysmally” by the company with regard to pensions and future employment opportunities.

Also Read: Over 600 apply for Bord na Mona redundancy scheme

She also pointed to the fact that Offaly County Council has established a ‘transition team’ comprising numerous state bodies that will advise Bord na Móna workers on third level education and alternative employment opportunities.

Bord na Móna’s redundancy scheme is over-prescribed – a lot of young people have applied for it.

She added: “Those young people are well able to set up their own businesses or move into third level education. There must be Just Transition in relation to this and there must also be a regional enterprise plan.”

‘New industry’

Smith told those gathered at last Tuesday’s launch that there were a number of companies in Ireland “heavily reliant on fossil fuels” and that in order to support workers into the future it was imperative that Just Transition was implemented.

In a statement to AgriLand, Bord na Móna said that the “progressive repositioning” of the company’s business from a high to a low carbon model is taking place over a period of time.

This, the company added, ensures that people affected by the current plan are treated “in a fair and just manner”.

A spokesperson pointed out that a key part of the company’s Just Transition involves the creation of employment opportunities for people in new sustainable businesses, in the area of renewable energy generation, resource recovery or in other activities providing goods and services to the green economy.

The company’s intention is to replace traditional employment with new long-term opportunities in the green economy that will support communities across the midlands.

The spokesperson went on to say that, to date, part of the transition involved a voluntary redundancy scheme that was opened up to employees earlier this year.

“A considerable portion of applications have already been finalised; the remaining applications are being finalised along different timelines that are largely determined by a range of criteria including specific business needs and the personal requirements of the individuals involved,” he continued.

“The repositioning of the company’s business from a high to a low carbon model allows for a significant number of people to retire during the transition period.

“There will also be opportunities to avail of replacement employment within the company where it becomes available or to retrain and re-skill for alternative employment outside the company.”

‘Decarbonisation transition’

Meanwhile, Bord na Móna pointed to the “significant amount of work” it has already carried out in relation to repositioning.

We have organised a range of employee supports at locations across the company.

The spokesperson added: “These include tax advice sessions, crossroads workshops for career assessment and planning, retirement planning and advice sessions, upskilling and advice meetings, self-marketing and support sessions, job fairs and career skills, and preparation [one-to-one] engagements.

“The employee support plan is ongoing at present and the company is also engaged in a range of external agencies and companies to support its Just Transition plans.

“The company is also actively engaged with the regional transition team which brings together a number of socio-economic stakeholders in the midlands region to address issues arising from the wider decarbonisation transition in the region.”