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Management operating Cheestrings production line during strike at Kerry Group plant

Employees at the plant are currently engaging in their third 24-hour work stoppage.

THE KERRY GROUP has said it has been left with no option but to have management from the company operate the Cheestrings production line at the Kerry Group plant in Charleville, Cork, during an ongoing strike.

Employees at the plant are currently engaging in their third 24-hour work stoppage. Two previous work stoppages took place on Monday and 30 January.

Workers at the plant voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a dispute over shift patterns and other issues. Layoffs are expected.

Frank Hayes of the Kerry Group said about 30 members of management from within the company are “doing their utmost to sustain this business and ensure its continued viability”.

He explained that to maintain standards of food production, the line has to operate to some degree during the strike.

He told TheJournal.ie “a changing marketplace” meant the company had to introduce new meaures over the past year “in order to meet customer requirements” and “expand our geographical reach into a number of European countries”.

Hayes said the change in programme had been accepted in all departments on the Charleville site expect one Cheestring production area.

WRC

Kerry Group withdrew from a hearing at the Workforce Relations Commission (WRC) in November.

Siptu organiser Terry Bryan previously said: “There is a collective agreement between the company and workers concerning dispute resolution which clearly states that should a matter remain unresolved between the parties it shall be referred to the appropriate third party body, in this case, the WRC.

The items that are in dispute include proposed changes to shift patterns and terms, job rotation and appointments. These matters were due before the Labour Court on 28 November 2016. However, management withdrew from that scheduled hearing and has now refused to attend a conciliation meeting at the WRC.

Hayes said the company had attended several local and WRC meetings in a bid to find a resolution to the dispute, stating: “Despite our best efforts we made absolutely no progress.”

“We’re hoping that progress can be made and representatives will be prepared to come forward and engage positively to find a solution,” he said.

Read: Another pay dispute in the Labour Court – this time it’s Irish Rail

Read: Union bosses meet with TDs as Bus Éireann industrial action remains on the cards

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Órla Ryan

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