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Snippet Contents:

I thank the Minister for his answer because it clarifies for me the dispute I have with him on what a just transition for workers means. It is all of the above as mentioned by the Minister but it is also about how they are treated while their jobs are being done away, what access they have to voluntary redundancy, what that amounts to and who is covered by this agreement. There is a cohort of Bord na Móna and subsidiary company employees who are not covered by the joint industrial relations council. Where do they go? The just transition commissioner's terms of reference are limited to the areas mentioned by the Minister such as retrofitting, restoration of the bogs, etc., but that does not deal with workers who are being dumped on the scrap heap, some of them after 35 or 40 years, with inadequate pensions and redundancy payments and many of them without a choice in terms of whether or not they avail of that redundancy. For many of them, their working hours have been changed and their pay has been cut. Where new industries have been provided, such as the plastics recycling facility at Littleton, contracts of employment are subject to renewal annually and, thus, workers are denied access to the industrial relations machinery because, as the Minister will be aware, to be eligible to access to that machinery an employee must be in employment for a particular length of time. Also, these are minimum wage jobs as opposed to the properly paid jobs that Bord na Móna workers had for decades.
There is a problem with the Minister's interpretation of a just transition for workers. We have to get it right. It is not only about the bogs and redeployment, it is about what happens to workers when they are made redundant. If we do not accept that and we do not give Mr. Kieran Mulvey the scope in his terms of reference to deal with this, as is currently the case, then the only place to deal with this is the Workplace Relations Commission. At a meeting yesterday of the Joint Committee on Climate Action, the committee would not back a proposal from me to send a letter on the issue to the Minister. I am pleading with him to prevail upon Bord na Móna management to attend a just transition forum in the Workplace Relations Commission, which the latter has agreed to facilitate.