‘Bittersweet news’ for AES power workers says trade union

Ballylumford Power Station.
Ballylumford Power Station.

Appoximately 80 AES redundancies look likely at Ballylumford Power Station in Islandmagee, according to trade union Unite.

United has described today’s announcement as “bittersweet news” for the A£S workforce in East Antrim following confirmation that Kilroot Power Station in Carrick will remain operational for another 12 months.

Unite believes that 60 full-time contractors are also likely to be adversely affected.

Davy Thompson, Unite regional co-ordinating officer welcomed the news that Kilroot power station would be offered a one year System Support Services contract by SONI that would mean the jobs of more than 170 AES workers and more than 100 direct, full-time contractors would be safeguarded.

“This is a welcome announcement. Unite has fought hard for this commitment for many months now and it will bring some assurance to the more than 170 AES employees and the more than one hundred full-time on-site contractors whose positions will be safeguarded as a result. Our objective is now to ensure that 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 that up to 80 AES positions will be lost as Ballylumford B power station is closed. We are hopeful that 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 that 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.

“Workers are being asked to pay the price for the failure to invest in a managed transition to renewables, where they could be upskilled to fill jobs in the new modes of generation.

“Meanwhile our economy has been left reliant on last generation generating capacity for our security of supply. What is needed is a state-led approach predicated on the nationalisation of this industry and large-scale public investment to create the energy jobs of the future.”