SIPTU gives go-ahead for 24-hour strike at Dairygold

SIPTU confirmed yesterday that a 24-hour strike by its members in all Dairygold Co-op depots is going ahead on Tuesday.

The union, which represents most of the 2,500 workers in the dairy processing giant, is in dispute with the co-op over its procedural agreement. As both sides adopted firm positions yesterday, it was confirmed that a strike at the company's pig farms will begin on Monday the day before the major work stoppage.

SIPTU's Mitchelstown branch secretary Anne Egar said Dairygold's consistent breaches of its industrial relations procedural agreement have left the union with no alternative but to take industrial action. "We asked the management to work with the current agreement until such time as the three main areas of concern to our members were addressed," she said.

"These are the criteria used in selecting five employees for compulsory redundancy, the proposed new procedural agreement and concerns over loss of earnings."

Ms Egar said the union acknowledged that the company was in financial difficulty and indicated its willingness to negotiate change within an agreed time frame if necessary.

"However, as late as last weekend, management have again ignored the procedural agreement and tried to introduce unilateral changes in work practices."

Ms Egar said that the union remains available for negotiation at all times. The co-op, in the process of a major restructuring programme that has already involved 500 redundancies, has denied breaching its procedural agreement.

A spokesman said a Labour Court hearing on key issues in the dispute was initially scheduled for Wednesday of this week but was rescheduled at SIPTU's request to Thursday next.

"It is particularly disturbing that SIPTU appears to have used the deferral to orchestrate strike action, rather than have met in the Labour Court as initially agreed to address concerns," he said.

ICMSA leader Pat O'Rourke called on SIPTU to call off the planned strike and said he fully supported Dairygold management.

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