Independent Workers’ Union members of the ESB took part in the second of a 24-hour strike on Thursday as part of their battle against outsourcing which the workers see is ‘privatisation by the back door’.
Indeed strikers told Militant Left that there are more vans from KN Circet at their training centre than ESB vans, and in fact the strikers say it is difficult for technicians to get places on training courses within the ESB. None of this is surprising when we see that KN Circet group were awarded the contract to install smart meters for the ESB countrywide, a job ESB technicians could easily have handled. It seems KN Circet are poised to take over the work of ESB Networks if the semi-State company is eventually wound down.
The ESB does not recognise the Independent Workers’ Union and claims the strike is illegal and is threatening legal action. This must be resisted by all workers, and support for the strikers must be forthcoming from other unions such as SIPTU, Connect, and Unite who also represent staff in the ESB.
The workers’ joined the IWU when they became dissatisfied with their former Unions’ willingness to placate employers and their attachment to Social Partnership; as one worker told Militant Left: ‘They were more like another branch of HR.’ There will be two further stoppages on Tuesday 4 th and Wednesday 5 th of May with an ongoing work-to-rule.
The workers have seen privatisation has affected other State companies and lessons, like those of Telecom Éireann are not lost on them, as one striker said ‘It’s asset stripping pure and simple.’
Militant Left calls on the ESB to recognise the IWU and its members and engage with the workers. We call on other unions and workers to send their support and solidarity to the strikers; their fight is for all their colleagues not just themselves.