Denis Naughten TD has written to the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, asking him to directly intervene to ensure Bord na Mona applies Government funded Covid supports in an equitable manner.
“We have a bizarre situation where a Semi-State company is using the wage subsidy scheme for some of its employees while using the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for other employees and at the same time some of the staff receiving Government supports are waiting for the company to approve their voluntary redundancy applications,” stated Denis Naughten.
“The action by Bord na Mona, which goes against the spirit and primary intention behind the emergency legislation, is in fact undermining the political solidarity shown by TDs to date in Dáil Éireann.
“Without the direct intervention of An Taoiseach before staff are laid off on Wednesday, I would be concerned that the actions by Bord na Mona could undermine the ability of Government to get consent on future legislation,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Editor’s Note: Copy of letter to An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD below.
You will recall our conversation of 23rd March last during the party/group leaders conference call where I stressed the need to keep the direct linkage between employers and employees through a wage subsidy scheme.
I believe there was unanimous support for this position from the party/group leaders that this was preferential to employees being laid off and relying on Social Welfare Supports through the PUP.
The Regional Technical Group members supported the passage of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 on the basis that the wage subsidy scheme would be promoted as the primary mechanism to support the maintenance of the linkage between employees and their employers.
I am therefore astounded that a State Company, Bord na Mona has decided to selectively use the wage subsidy scheme for some of its employees and to use the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for other staff who are to be laid off.
To add to the frustration being experienced by Bord na Mona staff is the bizarre situation where there are 250 staff who have applied for voluntary redundancy, some of whom will now be receiving the wage subsidy while other staff are being laid off.
Surely those who wish to leave Bord na Mona should be allowed to do so, thereby providing some work for other employees who are to be laid off this Wednesday.
I understand that this has already been brought to the attention of Minister Bruton & Mr. Donnellan, Chief Executive of Bord na Mona, last week by the staff Group of Unions but to date there has been no reply.
Such a move by any employer undermines the principle behind the wage subsidy scheme and the solidarity shown by members of Dáil Éireann, never mind a Semi-State Company.
I can state categorically that it was not the intent of a member of Dáil Éireann that any company would selectively use both Covid-19 support schemes.
I believe that this undermining of the intent of Dáil Éireann will seriously damage the solidarity that may be needed in the coming weeks should further legislation, either primary or secondary, be required.
I am therefore asking you, in order to protect the Covid-19 solidarity shown by TDs from all sides, to directly intervene in this matter to ensure that the wage subsidy scheme is applied to all Bord na Mona staff as it was originally intended by Dáil Éireann based on current pay and not selectively operated by a Semi-State company.
I await your response,
Denis Naughten TD