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Senator Paul Gavan expresses concern over Kerry Foods dispute

13 February, 2017 - by Paul Gavan

Senator Paul Gavan has called on the management of Kerry Foods in Charleville, Co. Cork to engage with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) "as a matter of urgency" in order to resolve an ongoing industrial relations dispute.

SIPTU members at the Kerry Group plants in Charleville have scheduled four 24 hour work stoppages over the next two weeks (Tuesday 14th, Friday 17th, Tues 21st and Fri 24th) in a dispute which results from the company's refusal to attend the WRC.

Senator Gavan, who is a former trade union official, has expressed concern over the nature of the dispute. " I understand that the dispute has its origins in disagreement over proposed changes to shift patterns and job rotations. The only way to resolve disputes of this nature if they can't be resolved locally is through the industrial relations machinery of the State."

" I am shocked that a company like Kerry Foods, which has a long history of good industrial relations, is now refusing to utilise the services of the Workplace Relations Commission. This dispute affects 250 SIPTU members, and in turn will have a serious knock on effect to the local economy. There can be justification for management refusing to attend the WRC and I will be making a statement in the Seanad on the matter"

Senator Gavan also expressed concern about the alleged use by the company of strike breakers last week. " I understand from SIPTU that workers from outside the plant were bused in past the picket lines last Thursday. This marks a serious escalation by management in this dispute and and will only harden the resolve of the workers. This could easily turn into a long and protracted dispute unless management agree to attend the WRC as a matter of urgency."

Senator Gavan, alongside Sinn Fein Councillor Lisa Marie Sheehy, will pay a visit to the picket line tomorrow (Tuesday morning) to show solidarity with the local workforce. Speaking ahead of the visit Cllr Sheehy said " These workers have in many cases given a lifetime of service to Kerry Foods. All they are asking is that the company negotiate, in line with normal industrial relations procedures. There is growing anger amongst the local community that Management appear to be disregarding these men and women who have been the backbone of the company's success for decades."

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