A protest march is to take place in Birr this Saturday in support of striking Milne Foods workers.
Approximately 20 workers at the fruit and vegetable processing plant in Syngefield Industrial Estate have picketed their workplace on eight separate occasions since an initial strike on July 11.
An additional two days of strike action is planned next Monday, August 26 and Tuesday, August 27.
SIPTU’s Mick Browne said workers are looking for the company to come to the negotiating table with the union in relation to pay and conditions as outlined by the Labour Court.
This Saturday’s march comes after workers met with Birr councillors on August 12 last to outline their position. Cathaoirleach of Birr Town Council John Carroll told the Offaly Independent after that meeting that councillors had expressed a willingness to act as intermediaries.
According to Mr Browne this Saturday’s protest march has been arranged following “no contact from the company at all”. The rally in support of striking workers will begin at Emmet Square in the town at approximately 4pm, before supporters march to the Milne Foods plant and back over the course of not more than an hour and a half.
Mr Browne previously outlined the reason behind workers striking. “The purpose of the stoppages is simply just to implement what the Labour Court said should happen, and that’s simply that the company would engage with the union and discuss issues raised on behalf of members as a collective,” he said.
According to Mr Browne some workers at Milne Foods organised themselves into a union a year ago and a number of issues including pay and overtime/shift premiums came to light.
The Labour Court issued a recommendation that Milne Foods engage with the union with a view to reaching a collective agreement on pay and conditions, and Mr Browne said strike action relates to the company’s failure to do this.
Strike action has so far been taken on July 11, July 19, August 1, August 2, August 6, August 7, August 15 and August 16.
“It has become clear that the company has no intention of implementing the Labour Court recommendation which it received back in March,” Mr Browne said in a statement issued by Siptu in recent days. “The workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action and now organise this protest after they exhausted all other avenues open to them to initiate constructive dialogue with management.
"This company is in receipt of State funds from contracts to supply publicly funded bodies including a number of Health Service Executive hospitals. However, management is refusing to honour a Labour Court recommendation or even meet with workers’ representatives. The workers have received great support from the local community and their fellow trade unionists and will continue their campaign until management deal with them in a reasonable manner.”
No statement on the matter has been issued by Milne Foods.