Following the breakdown of talks, over 1,000 Electricity Supply Board technicians have gone on strike in Ireland over the controversial use of outside contractors to carry out upgrade work on the Irish power network.

Around 1,200 network technicians at the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), the state electricity corporation in the Republic of Ireland, have downed tools in protest to the use of external outfits.

The strike called by ATGWU trade union members is the first to impact the Irish state electricity organization since 1991. The union claims that the extent of the use of outside contractors breaches the terms of an agreement forged between unions and the ESB in 2001. In contrast, the ESB argues that its action were in line with the accord, known as the ‘Pact’. There is also disagreement on whether the Pact is still in operation.

However, controversially, two other unions, the TEEU and Siptu, which between them represent a further 1,000 ESB network technicians, have instructed members to go to work as normal during the strike. The two unions are prepared for further talks.

Meanwhile, responding to concerns about the impact of the action, the Irish electricity board said that power cuts are not immediately expected, but there could be delays to repair work and new connections.