Fears for 400 jobs in North as Moy Park closes production line

Poultry producer will ‘temporarily’ stop processing live birds at its Ballymena plant

The company, which is owned by the US group Pilgrim’s Pride, said that it intends to close its North Antrim hatchery operation until November

The company, which is owned by the US group Pilgrim’s Pride, said that it intends to close its North Antrim hatchery operation until November

 

Poultry producer Moy Park has confirmed it plans to “temporarily” close a key production line at one of its biggest plants in the North, sparking concerns that hundreds of jobs could be under threat in Northern Ireland.

Moy Park said it plans to “temporarily” stop processing live birds at its Ballymena plant because of what it has described as “challenging market conditions”.

Union leaders fear the decision by the North’s largest private sector employer could put 400 jobs in danger in Ballymena.

Moy Park said on Wednesday that it intends to close its North Antrim hatchery operation until November.

The company, which is owned by the US group Pilgrim’s Pride, said it does not plan to begin processing live birds again at its Ballymena plant until January 2020.

In a statement, Moy Park said: “We will continue to cut, further process and pack at Ballymena, including retail production of our BBQ products.

‘Minimise impact’

“We are currently working with our colleagues and their representatives, doing our utmost to minimise the impact of this proposal on our excellent workforce, including offering temporary transfers to other shifts and roles.

“We will also be working closely with our farming partners throughout the process to manage this temporary reduction in poultry requirement.”

But union representatives have said there is no guarantee that Moy Park’s decision to close the production line in Ballymena will not be a permanent move and, as a result, the long-term security of 400 jobs could be in danger.

Sean McKeever, from the trade union Unite, said it was “highly concerned” about the implications of closing the line and that its members on the shop floor had little confidence that the production line will re-open next January.

“Moy Park management must offer guarantees that no worker, whether agency or otherwise, will be made redundant,” Mr McKeever said.