A CORK TD has warned that job cuts in Dawn Meats Midleton factory could be part of an industry-wide push to replace Irish workers with cheap foreign labour.
Labour’s spokesperson on agriculture and food Sean Sherlock said industry sources had expressed concern that a trend was developing within the sector whereby Brazilian and South American workers are being hired instead of Irish.
He said he had recently been contacted by a boner in the meat industry who could not get work, even though employers were hiring foreign workers.
Mr Sherlock pointed towards some of the bigger meat processors as culprits, and said although the evidence was anecdotal, there was a “definite displacement” of Irish workers.
He called on Dawn Meats to make a public statement regarding its position.
Last Friday the Irish Examiner reported that Dawn was to shed 160 jobs from its Midleton plant. The company, however, refused to comment.
Midleton-based county councillor Michael Hegarty said he was shocked to hear of the job losses and expressed concerned the move would have serious implications, not just for the town but the whole of the east Cork region.
“My biggest fear is that the company will bring in agency workers, many of whom might be foreign, displacing the established and suitably qualified employees who have given years of dedicated service to this company,” he said.
“The company wants to close the main boning hall and associated facilities. The job losses associated with this will encompass general operatives, skilled operatives, boners, fitters, electricians, packers and even IT and secretarial staff.”
Mr Hegarty said employees “had adjusted to everything management had asked for. Now they have got nothing for it.”
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