Rabbitte: Even a temporary stoppage of power 'out of proportion'

The Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte has said any strike by staff at ESB would be "out of proportion" with the scale of the pension dispute at the company.

Mr Rabbitte last night asked the Labour Relations Commission to intervene, in a final effort to avert strike action and power outages in the run-up to Christmas.

Both sides will begin talks at the LRC today, but all negotiations so far have failed to resolve the row over the €1.6bn hole in the company's pension fund.

Minister Rabbitte said any disruption of the country's electricity supply would be a step too far.

He said: "In the nature of things, and if the Regulator's yardstick is that the scheme will be back in surplus by 2018, and in the interim nobody suffers any diminution of pension entitlement, then it seems to me that there is plenty of time to deal with any related or attendant issues.

"The threat of even a temporary stoppage of one hour is out of proportion."

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