Philip Casey is an employee of Bord na Móna and has been working for the company for 39 years.

He told those gathered at the recently held conference ‘Building A Just Transition: The Case for Bord na Móna’ that morale in the company was at a very low ebb at the moment.

Those gathered at the event heard how there were major concerns among employees at the company about the redundancy package that is on offer.

The are also concerned about retirement and pensions, and how they are going to survive the gap to pension age. Any transition would need to be “just” for the employees, the conference was told.

The ‘Just Transition’ initiative – which has been mooted in an effort to identify key measures and supports for Bord na Móna employees and the communities in which the company is based – was discussed in detail at the conference in Tullamore on Tuesday, April 30.

‘Transitioning must be just’

Just Transition, meanwhile, is described as “a framework that has been co-opted by the trade union movement to encompass a range of social interventions needed to secure workers’ jobs and livelihoods when economies are shifting to sustainable production”.

It includes avoiding climate change, protecting biodiversity and ending war as well as other challenges.

Casey says that workers at Bord na Móna “don’t even know if we have a future” because they are now dependent on the supply of biomass to the various power stations.

Working in Bord na Móna has changed so much and morale is very bad at the moment.

He continued: “Just Transition and the low carbon economy is the fuel that is being used to ignite the development of the midlands region and it’s a pity it is after taking Bord na Móna so long to get to this point.”

The Bord na Móna employee went on to say that the country was now in election mode with both the local and European elections on the horizon and it was time to “emphasis to our politicians” the difficulties company employees will face if planning permission for power stations is not secured.

There is a bridge because there are people my age and younger who will not have a level of security; they are going to lose their earning potential.

He continued: “People say ‘oh there is great redundancy with Bord na Móna‘ but the reality is for many workers that when they go to get their redundancy package they find it consists of two years wages.

“Then they have to go on social welfare – so where is the security in that? There needs to be some form of security for people until they get to pension age.”