Kerry Foods strikes suspended as talks begin

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Northern ireland, Strike action, Kerry

Generic strike placard
Generic strike placard
Unite the Union says it has begun a conciliation process with Kerry Foods via a third-party mediator, aimed at resolving a pay dispute at the firm’s Omagh site.

Gareth Scott, Unite industrial regional organiser, told last night that both sides were locked in negotiations, which are being mediated by the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) in Northern Ireland.

Scott said that Unite members took strike action at the factory, which produces dairy products, over 24 hours last Tuesday, in protest at Kerry’s pay offer of 1% this year.

But he added:“We were due to begin another strike at 10pm last night, but we suspended the action because both groups decided to go to conciliation, via what is basically the Northern Ireland equivalent of ACAS​ [the​Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.​].

“We’re in conciliation at this stage, and we don’t know whether we’ll be able to achieve a settlement or whether we will take further industrial action.”

Better pay deals

Frank Hayes, director of corporate affairs at Kerry Group confirmed yesterday that talks were taking place. He said on Monday that the Omagh site was involved in a highly competitive marketplace.

Hayes said: “There are around 100 staff at this site, of whom less than half are involved in this action. Clearly we want a solution that works to secure the future of the business and meets the needs of employees.”

Earlier this week, Scott said that workers at the site felt discriminated against, given that staff at other Kerry facilities had been offered better pay deals.

According to Unite, Kerry has offered Kerry Foods, Coleraine staff 2% increases, and employees at a site in Enniskillen variable increases ranging from 2.5 to 4.3%.

Related topics: People & Skills, Dairy

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