Dispute at diamond firm referred to LRC

 

A DISPUTE at a firm in Co Clare, which has confirmed plans to cut its workforce by a quarter, has been referred to the Labour Relations Commission for hearing tomorrow.

Plans by Element Six (formerly De Beers Industrial Diamonds) to lay off 150 staff hit a snag this month when workers refused to take part in talks to finalise a redundancy package. Workers said they would not participate as long as the firm forces them to work a new short-time roster.

On December 2nd last, management at the plant confirmed plans to lay off 150 workers. Two weeks later, the 620-plus staff were told a “three weeks on/one week off” roster would be brought in as of January 5th.

The firm said it had no alternative but to introduce a period of short-time working with a number of actions to “preserve cash within the business, which is essential at this time to ensure the sustainability of the business and to protect the maximum number of jobs possible”.

Workers continued to attend for work as normal. Management warned staff they would be paid for the days they were rostered on, and not for attending on days for which they were not rostered.

Workers’ pay cheques were not docked in the first week. Last Friday workers received 75 per cent of normal pay, which escalated the row. A meeting between Siptu and Element Six management last Friday delivered no progress and the matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission for discussion tomorrow.

Workers say they will participate in talks to finalise a redundancy package for the 150 staff only when the short-time plan is “off the table”.

Short-time was not introduced in departments at the firm where required redundancies had already been reached.