Union joy af­ter 170 jobs get re­prieve in trans­fer deal

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS - BY MAU­RICE FITZ­MAU­RICE

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

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