More than 150 jobs to go in deal to reopen Tara Mines

Production has been shut down since last July, with 650 workers temporarily laid off

About 160 jobs are set to be lost at Tara Mines as part of a proposed deal between the facility’s Swedish owner and trade unions representing the company’s workers that would see the site reopen on a gradual basis.

The terms of the deal, which was reached in the early hours of the Wednesday morning at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), provides for any job losses to be on a voluntary basis.

Production at the Boliden-owned facility in Co Meath was shut down last July, with 650 workers temporarily laid off after what the company said were “significant and unsustainable financial losses” amid falling zinc prices globally.

Since then, as many as 50 are said to have already retired or taken early retirement packages in the past nine months, before the latest job losses were announced.


The deal is understood to provide for terms of five weeks of pay for each year of service, including statutory entitlements, for those staff who accept redundancy. It is also understood to provide guarantees with regard to the maintenance of existing levels of pay and certain assurances on the future use of direct labour versus outside contractors.

At least 160 contract staff worked at the facility at the time of its temporary closure.

The intention is to commence a reopening of the facility from June although no date has yet been finalised.

The company had sought a wide range of changes to work practices at the mine with changes to shift patterns and rostering, and it is understood some of these have been incorporated into the new agreement.

The wording of the agreement was being finalised by WRC officials on Wednesday morning but is expected to be signed off on by both sides.

It will be put to shop stewards at the mine early next week before being balloted on by all of the various unions’ members. It is understood it will be recommended by officials of Unite and Connect. Siptu, meanwhile, has confirmed it will recommend the deal.

“We have secured a commitment for a date for a reopening of the mine from June on a staged basis and secured core terms and conditions, but there will be a significant number of redundancies as well as significant changes to work practices, but we will share those with our members,” said Adrian Kane, senior Siptu organiser.

“The trade-off has been securing core terms and conditions for more flexible work practices,” he said. “We will put that before the members and it will be for them to decide whether to accept or not, but the negotiating committee have recommended the terms for acceptance.”

Speaking on the News at One on RTÉ Radio 1, Mr Kane said the redundancies are unfortunate, but they will be on a voluntary basis. “It has been a very, very difficult time for our members over the last nine months. And this is the first bit of good news in terms of a commitment to reopen the mine that they’ve had over that period of time.”

In a letter sent to staff on Wednesday morning, seen by The Irish Times, Boliden said the proposals will, if accepted, enable the mine to reopen and bring employees back on a phased basis. However, it said the proposals will lead to changes to the operation of the mine.

Earlier this year, a war of words erupted between the worker representatives and Boliden after the Swedish multinational proposed a rescue plan that Unite said would permanently reduce the workforce at the mines by more than one-third and significantly alter terms and conditions for the remaining workers.

Unite accused Boliden of backsliding on the terms and conditions for remaining workers, and said the Government must intervene to secure “good jobs and skills” at the Co Meath mine unless the company withdrew its proposals.

Tara Mines reported 61 per cent decline in revenues for last year, driven by lower zinc prices, lower metal grades, a weaker US dollar, and lower production due to the suspension of operations.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times