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Joe LaCumbre Retires

After almost four decades, Joe LaCumbre decided to call it a day and said his goodbyes at a function held in McGrattan’s in Dublin on Friday March 24th. Joe first joined ESB Portlaoise District in 1968 but left again for a short period and recommenced his ESB career in October 1969 as an electrician in Projects Department. It was a period of major construction in Power Generation so Joe found himself in nearly every location from the Poolbeg Peninsula to the Midlands, Cork and Clare. As Chief Executive Padraig McManus said at his presentation, “Joe built power stations with one hand and his electoral base with the other, finding his vocation as a trade unionist and negotiator”.

Joe was active in industrial relations in the turbulent 70’s and 80’s when a series of disputes took place in ESB. In 1985 Joe joined the ESB Board for the first time and so began over two decades of campaigning on behalf of his members and ESB staff. He was also elected to the Superannuation Committee and a Trustee of the Medical Provident Fund. The strike of 1991 was a defining moment for ESB and for all involved in ESB industrial relations. The old IR model no longer worked and so the late Joe Moran, then the new Chief Executive, asked Peter Cassells to review industrial relations in ESB.

This led to a profound re-think by the company, by the unions and by the Department. It ultimately led to CCR in 1996 and to a new era of industrial relations in ESB, underpinned by partnership. From the beginning of Joe’s arrival on the Board it was clear that he saw the big picture. He saw the pressures that would inevitably arise and the urgent need for the company to prepare itself. And he argued the case for change without fear or favour.

Joe had one fundamental belief which he has always stuck to - if ESB was successful, then the staff would be successful. Joe was a poll topper every time because he was a relentless champion of ESB staff. In a period of often bewildering change Joe stood by them and explained the issues. On the Board and in the trade union movement Joe had the realism to see what needed to be done and he had the vision and the powers of persuasion to get it done.

Joe was also a tireless campaigner on the Pension Fund and the Superannuation Committee. Staff at every level in the company recognised this and trusted his views and knowledge of a difficult and complex area. Joe also has long service as Trustee of the Medical Provident Fund. Joe campaigned tirelessly to keep the Fund strong, delivering a level of cover secondto- none. But he was also to the fore in the whole partnership process. Through both phases, Joe LaCumbre represented the ESB workers who voted for him to the best of his ability. That is why he topped the poll again and again. That is why he served for a record 21 years as a Board member. We wish Joe a long and happy retirement together with his wife Noreen and his daughters Sarah and Natasha as we say goodbye to a colleague, Board member and a major player in the history of ESB.

  Pictured ESB Chief Executive Padraig McManus with Joe LaCumbre, his wife Noreen and his daughters Natasha (far left) and Sarah (far right).

Pictured ESB Chief Executive Padraig McManus with Joe LaCumbre, his wife Noreen and his daughters Natasha (far left) and Sarah (far right).
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