New fears hung over the future of jobs at Waterford Stanley yesterday as management refused to bow to union demands for a relocation reward of €2,300 for each of its employees.
Staff want the allowance paid before they move from Bilberry on the south bank of the River Suir to the city Industrial Park, about three miles away on the opposite side of the city.
If next Monday’s deadline for the move is not met, staff will be put on protective notice, the company told workers yesterday.
Waterford Stanley says it can get a similar product shipped from Poland for 35% less if manufacturing closes down in Waterford. The company says the new, modern factory will be as near or nearer to the homes of 75% of employees.
The company has already agreed to pay workers €150 initially and two further payments of €150, a total of €450 - linked to gain-sharing and productivity - to relocate.
The company says staff also have a chance in the next 12 months to earn a total of €2,070 extra, which includes gain-sharing and productivity bonuses, on top of their average pay of €30,000.
And it said it is prepared to go to the Labour Court if Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) members cooperate fully with the relocation on the issue of the relocation money, plus outstanding issues, including gain-sharing for extra productivity.
Staff meanwhile say they will only go to the Labour Court on the issue of the relocation allowance.
Employee and TEEU shop steward Dick Roche said the issue is about much more than relocation.
“We have agreed to go to the Labour Court about the issue of relocation. We are supposed to be going up to a new plant which is too small. They have left key machines out to outsource the work,” he said.
“When we get up to the plant, they want a 20% increase in productivity. We want to sit down and talk about how we get that productivity. But management want to tie the issue of productivity and relocation together.
“Let’s bring relocation to the Labour Court and discuss productivity then,” Mr Roche said.
The company says the new plant is designed to cater for manufacturing needs. The old plant is too big, has accommodated up to 400 production workers in the past and is now inefficient.
Stanley bosses warned that the parent group had surplus manufacturing capacity for very similar product. They also claimed Stanley equivalent stoves manufactured in Poland for 35% less could be brought to Waterford.
City Mayor Hilary Quinlan appealed for both sides to sit down and talk to address the issues.