LIGHTS STAY ON AT KILROOT.. FOR ANOTHER YEAR
Union joy after 170 jobs get reprieve in transfer deal
A ONE-YEAR reprieve for power station workers must be maintained for longer, unions said yesterday.
Unite spoke out after a new deal was announced to allow energy supplier AES to transfer some operations to its Kilroot power plant in Co Antrim in a move that will save 170 jobs, if only for a year.
Regional co-ordinating officer Davy Thompson welcomed the news adding more than 100 “direct, full-time contractors would be safeguarded” as well.
He added: “Our objective is now to ensure this contract rolls over for another year after the lapse period of this contract.
“At the same time, this is bittersweet news, as it confirms up to 80 AES positions will be lost as Ballylumford B power station is closed.
“We are hopeful the bulk of these losses will be achieved through voluntary redundancies across the sites but the fact remains that this is a potential 80 more jobs going from the Northern Ireland economy that won’t be there for the next generation of workers.
“It has to be said the handling of the integrated single electricity market by the Electricity Regulator and the System Operator for Northern Ireland has been shambolic from start to finish.
“There have been multiple delays, computer system failures and now this u-turn. The concept of an energy market is not working and will not work – it has been driven by right-wing ideology as opposed to common sense economics.”
Manufacturing NI said the move comes against a backdrop of high energy costs for local businesses.
Chief executive Stephen Kelly added: “Our electricity system operator, SONI, and Utility Regulator have folded at the threat from AES to pull all their generating capacity from the Northern Ireland market.
“This has resulted in a very dangerous precedent where £14million of consumers’ money is being loaded on to bills which have already risen almost 20% for domestic consumers and up to 34% for business consumers in this past month.
“This comes three years almost to the day since
Michelin in Ballymena announced it was to close, largely due to high energy prices, with the loss of 890 jobs.”
Kilroot has been granted a one-year long generating contract after negotiations with the NI Utility Regulator. Under the agreement AES– the US energy giant which owns Ballylumford and Kilroot power stations –will reduce output at the Ballylumford plant and move it to Kilroot.
The company is to begin discussions with employees and trade union officials on mitigating compulsory redundancies. It stressed it did not want to pre-empt the process and discuss the number of positions under threat. Last year AES lost out on a capacity auction run by network owner Eirgrid in the Republic, and its counterpart SONI in NI.
Yesterday’s announcement was a reprieve for the workers at Kilroot, where as many as 250 jobs were at risk.
AES Eurasia president Mark Green said: “For more than 20 years AES has provided safe and reliable energy to Northern Ireland while demonstrating operational and safety excellence.”
The firm’s UK & Ireland president Serhiy Zuyev added: “The portfolio restructuring at AES in Northern Ireland will have an impact on the organisation structure across both plants.
“Management will immediately enter into consultation with union representatives on how that process will be managed to mitigate compulsory redundancies where possible.
“I would like to thank our people, contractors and suppliers for their patience, diligence and continued commitment as we continue to operate Kilroot and Ballylumford, securing safe and reliable energy for the people of Northern Ireland and supporting the local economy.”
CONCERNS Job loss fears POWER PLAY Kilroot Station in Co Antrim
GOOD SIGN Union hopes to save jobs
TALKS Unite’s Davy Thompson