Fears for Offaly jobs as Bord na Móna holds critical talks

Concern mounting over future of 130 jobs at briquette factories in Offaly and Tipperary

The future of two briquette factories in Offaly and Tipperary are in doubt this morning as the board of Bord na Móna plan to meet today to discuss the future of 140 workers. 

Unions representing workers at plants in Derrinlough, near Birr, Co. Offaly and Littleton, near Thurles, Co. Tipperary say they've received no concrete indication as to the final decision on whether or not one of the plants is to be closed.

The looming closure is being blamed on a decrease in briquette sales, which has resulted in both plants working at just half capacity in recent months.

The effect of carbon tax and two mild winters have dented Bord na Móna's peat briquette sales over the last 24 months. The two plants are said to now have thousands of tonnes of stock built up, such is the reduction in sales.

Bord na Móna has now reviewed the operations of each base and directors at the board are expected to consider a proposal today to shut down one of the factories with the loss of 70 jobs.

Speaking on Midlands 103 radio, Offaly TD Barry Cowen has said that based on a number of factors, he believes that if one plant is retained, it will be the Derrinlough plant in Offaly. He said he was "quite confident" of that decision in the event of one plant surviving today's planned talks. 

The semi-state company has attempted to avoid these closures with trials of a new biomass briquette but the rapid decline in sales has resulted in a situation whereby Bord na Móna is losing thousands of euro every week in this division.

Two simultaneous staff briefings are planned following today's talks at both Derrinlough and Littleton where staff will discover the future of their jobs. Those briefings are slated to take place around 3pm this afternoon.

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