In a statement, Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett has condemned the compulsory lay-off of five harbour employees, a 40% pay cut on remaining harbour workers and what he says is now a very serious threat of harbour privatisation – a threat confirmed by the Harbour Company CEO in a recent meeting with Cllr Boyd Barrett on the future of the harbour.
Cllr Boyd Barrett also strongly criticised fellow Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Co Councillors for their failure to challenge the Harbour Co over the redundancies. Cllr Boyd Barrett had put forward an emergency motion to discuss the redundancies at the January Council meeting (Jan 10) but councillors from Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail refused to support it. A number of councillors on the board of the Harbour Company are also believed to gone along with the exclusion of the boards’ staff representative from a board meeting where the redundancies were being discussed.
According to Cllr Boyd Barrett, Stena is, in fact, deliberately worsening the harbour Company’s financial position and pushing it towards privatisation through its plan to remove the HSS from Dun Laoghaire, substantially reducing revenue to the Harbour Company.
Cllr Boyd Barrett said he welcomed suggestions other from the Harbour Company that the Carlisle Pier would now be developed as a public amenity, following a planned public consultation over the coming weeks, but said such plans would mean little if harbour jobs were slashed and the harbour company was privatised.
Cllr Boyd Barrett said that in his capacity as chairperson of the Save Our Seafront (SOS) group he would be holding a public meeting over the coming weeks.
Cllr Boyd Barrett said: “It really is a scandal that the company has axed the jobs of five harbour employees, rather than come to some fair arrangement with them to make savings while keeping the jobs. These job losses are devastating for the five people involved and their families.
It is a disgrace that councillors from all the main parties – Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail – refused to support my proposal at this month’s Council meeting to discuss the planned job cuts and give some support to the harbour workers. It also very disappointing, if the reports I have heard are true, that the councillors on the harbour board agreed to the exclusion of the only workers representative on the board from a meeting where the planned redundancies were decided.
In my meeting with Gerry Dunne, he confirmed that moves by Stena to remove the HSS from the harbour this year – leaving only a small passenger ferry – would significantly reduce revenue to the harbour company, while at the same time Stena have also expressed an interest in acquiring the harbour if it comes up for sale as a result of the Mc Carthy proposals.It is not difficult to put two and two together here: Stena are deliberately pressuring the Harbour Company towards handing the Harbour over to them, and this is being facilitated by the government and the Mc Carthy agenda to sell-off semi-state companies.
At my meeting with Mr Dunne, he indicated the Harbour Company’s intention to develop the Carlisle Pier for public amenities and to engage in a public consultation on the harbour’s future. As far as it goes, this is a victory for the public protests against previous plans for high-rise apartments on the pier. However, such proposals will mean little if the harbour is privatised.
Given the very serious developments now taking place in the harbour, I intend to organise public meetings over the coming weeks to inform the public about what is going on. It is vital the public make their voices heard and that we fight to keep the harbour fully in public hands