Striking Green Isle workers to begin 'hunger strike'

Tue, Feb 16, 2010, 00:00

WORKERS AT Green Isle Foods in Co Kildare, who have been engaged in a strike at the plant for the last six months, are to begin a hunger strike from tomorrow.

The Technical, Electrical and Engineering Union (TEEU) said last night that shop steward Jim Wyse would commence a hunger strike on Wednesday in protest at what it said was the continued refusal of Green Isle Foods to accept Labour Court recommendations for the settlement of the lengthy dispute over the dismissal of union members.

The union said that if the company continued to refuse to accept the court’s recommendations or engage in talks with the TEEU a second member would join the hunger strike on February 24th, followed by another worker each Wednesday.

According to the union a number of employees were sacked after a confidential file was sent in error to a staff member. The file contained restructuring proposals, and the employee shared that information with staff.

The company maintained that three workers were dismissed following an investigation by the company into serious breaches of its IT and e-mail policy relating to pornography and copyright material.

The company said last night that in an effort to bring the dispute to a conclusion, it had approached an independent mediator, at the end of last week, ‘‘to sponsor an initiative focused on agreeing a settlement with the eight workers concerned’’.

It said that meetings between the parties were being scheduled over the coming days.

‘‘Green Isle Foods hopes that common sense prevails and that a settlement can be reached through the assistance of the independent mediator. The company enjoys the full support of its 550 employees and production at the site continues as normal,’’ it said.

TEEU general secretary designate Eamon Devoy said that management at Green Isle Foods had refused to engage with the union, the Labour Relations Commission, the National Implementation Body or the Labour Court.

‘‘There is no indication that the company will reconsider its position and our members feel they have no option but to take this drastic action to highlight the justice of their cause . . . Instead of engaging with us, the company has resorted to the use of strike breakers.”

‘‘On December 4th, 2009, the Labour Court issued a preliminary recommendation, that the parties negotiate a settlement, through an intermediary if necessary, and if no resolution can be found to revert to the Labour Court, who will issue a further recommendation.’’

The TEEU accepted the recommendation. As the company refused to engage through Ibec or any other third party, the court issued a further recommendation on January 5th, 2010, stating that, ‘‘The court believes that the appropriate redress in this case is that the workers be reinstated without loss of pay and the court so recommends.’’