Keelings staff to vote on strike action

UP to 600 staff working in Keelings are to be balloted for strike action after their union said at least 130 workers were told they faced redundancy.

However, in a statement last night Dublin-based Keelings said all employees impacted by the announcement it had made that day would be offered jobs with a new contractor and there would be no impact on pay, benefits or service.

Earlier SIPTU said 130 of its members working in the food distribution company were told that they faced redundancy.

It said the company blamed the loss of a transport logistics contract at Tesco. The union said most of its affected members were drivers but that some management and support staff also face lay-offs.

SIPTU has said it will be balloting all 600 members at the company for strike action “if it proceeds with the job losses in breach of agreements”.

“The company has told employees the job losses are because the contract has gone to Stobart Ireland Limited, which is a non-union company,” the union said. “Keelings employees are being offered a transfer to Stobart’s as an alternative to the dole but with no guarantee concerning future pay and conditions.”

The union’s sector organiser Pat Ward said he had demanded an immediate meeting with the company as the decision to make staff redundant was in breach of existing agreements and the Information and Consultation Act requiring them to give staff and the union proper notice of proposed job losses.

“Stobart and Keelings are also proposing to ignore transfer of undertakings legislation. This is an outrage,” he said. “Only in April we concluded a ground breaking agreement with Keelings in which we agreed to greater flexibility, a pay freeze and reduced rates for new recruits. We did so because of assurances from the company that the savings would ensure job security. The ink is hardly dry on the agreement when it is being torn up.”

Mr Ward also criticised Tesco saying as part of the Ethical Trading Initiative the supermarket giant is supposed to treat their staff, and the staff of associated companies and business partners with dignity and respect.

“This decision shows that Tesco’s commitment to the initiative is a mere marketing ploy,” he said. “Their real commitment is to the race to the bottom.”

“Keelings remain available to talk to SIPTU at all times,” it said.


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