BNM Group of Unions Secretary, Willie Noone, said: “BNM staff along with their retired former colleagues and supporters will be attending this march to highlight their growing concerns over the treatment of workers and the pension policy at the company.
“BNM is the only semi-state company that continues to deny workers the opportunity to work on after 65 years of age despite large numbers of these workers not being eligible for the state contributory pension until age 66. Many may not receive their pension until they reach the age of 67, if the proposed pension age increase is applied next year. Management is also denying all workers over 62 years of age the opportunity to avail of voluntary redundancy and have applied pay cuts to some workers already.
“At the same time the company is cutting its workforce at an alarming rate. It continues to forcefully retire workers without providing any reskilling or training and forcing other workers to re-apply for their own jobs at lower wages. Management is also threatening all seasonal workers that if they don’t reapply for their jobs, they will be laid off indefinitely and are coercing permanent workers on to fixed term contracts. All seasonal workers are facing layoff once they have nine months continuous service unless they sign fixed term contracts which lessen their conditions of employment.
“The BNM pension schemes will be left with many workers dependent on them while the number of those contributing to them is decreasing rapidly.”
He added: “There is great concern within communities, whose local economies heavily rely on the monies provided from the wages and pensions of BNM workers, about the impact of the growing crisis at the company. BNM workers and communities in the midlands are yet to see any evidence of a real commitment from the Government to provide a ‘Just Transition’ away from reliance on the peat industry towards other sustainable economic sectors and no plan has been outlined by the Chief Executive Officer of BNM to carry out his mandate to increase the numbers working in the company in the short or medium term.
“The Government has merely made promises that have not been backed up by any plan of delivery for the workers or their communities.”
The BNM Group of Unions includes SIPTU, Connect Trade Union and Unite.