There are calls for Minister for Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton to get Bord na Móna management to the Workplace Relation Commission to engage "in a meaningful way" with the workers, the community and their representatives to look for a just transition.

The Joint Committee on Climate Action has been hearing about plans for Bord na Móna and ESB staff to ensure alternative employment opportunities could be found for hundreds of workers affected by the decision to close two power stations in the midlands.

ICTU General Secretary Patricia King told the committee that "it is highly regrettable that Bord na Móna management has consistently refused to utilise the offices of the WRC to engage in a forum with workers, whereby all relevant issues can be discussed and resolved.

"It is equally unfortunate that the Government, while appointing a Just Transition Commissioner, has explicitly ruled out his having any role in matters pertaining to workers."

Ms King added: "Here we are with all of these people who are about to lose their jobs and all of the things that should be happening and all of the best international advice, even if we are late to the plate in terms of planning.

"All of these things that could be happening and the Bord na Móna management are absolutely point blank refusing to engage."

ICTU told the committee that the company showed "no signs" of having any dialogue or interaction with their workforce.

"They will come back and say we are using the Joint Industrial Council but that's about solving some day to day issues that may arise. So in our point of view this is the most serious situation regarding the future of all of those workers," Ms King said.

"We haven't much time, we have to do this business while these people are employed by Bord na Móna and we have to get in there now and have those conversations if we have any chance of having any replacement employment found for people," she added.

"Senior management are all new- this is a clean out job, this is too urgent, it's too serious not to say it as it is."

Bord na Móna Chief Executive Tom Donnellan later told the committee that a skills audit has been completed for 150 people who have signed up to a number of training programmes.