The 24 staff, members of the Mandate trade union, will picket the company’s stores from September 1.
The dispute follows an announcement by the Cork-headquartered company a fortnight ago that it was closing three stores, in New Square, Mitchelstown, and Patrick Street, Fermoy, in Co Cork, and Annacotty, Co Limerick, with the loss of 40 jobs.
The staff were given no warning before they were handed their redundancy notices and were offered only two weeks’ pay per year of employment along with notice payments, even though some had more than 38 years’ service with 4Home and previously with Dairygold.
The Mitchelstown staff immediately began a sit-in that only ended when the firm agreed to attend the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).
At that forum Mandate, representing the staff in the Co-op SuperStores in Mitchelstown and Fermoy, sought to relocate its members to 4Homes’ other stores in north Cork likely to be taken over by Dairygold. They also sought an improvement on the redundancy terms.
Following the talks’ failure, Mandate’s Lorraine O’Brien said: “The talks in the LRC broke down yesterday as a result of the company refusing to budge on their offer of statutory redundancy for their staff members. The workers are obviously extremely disappointed and upset at the outcome and this has shown through with an overwhelming vote in favour of industrial action.
“You have to question the company’s use of the state mechanisms for resolving disputes when it appears they had no intention of increasing their offer or engaging in meaningful negotiations.
“We’re very disappointed by the fact that 4Homes has refused to allow transfers of workers in these stores to other stores throughout the region. There is a strong case for allowing transfers to other stores which would mean workers would maintain an income in this very difficult economic period for them and their families.”
One staff member said: “We are all very disappointed by the company’s actions. It’s clear to us now that they had no intention of trying to resolve the dispute amicably.
“They seem to have used the LRC to prolong the dispute and get us to end our sit-in when they really had no intention of compromising or negotiating with our union.”