Bulmers workers vote for industrial action at Clonmel plant

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Members of the Unite union at Bulmers in Clonmel, which represents managerial workers, have voted unanimously for industrial action over issues concerning terms of redundancy.

Members of the Unite union at Bulmers in Clonmel, which represents managerial workers, have voted unanimously for industrial action over issues concerning terms of redundancy.

The union members voted on Sunday for industrial action, up to and including strike action, following what they described as “a decision by the company to renege on the terms of a 2009 collective agreement regarding redundancy terms”.

In a statement the company said the move by Unite was premature.

“This move is premature and unwarranted as C&C has already agreed (prior to the ballot; and, in line with Unite’s request) to go to the LRC to discuss this matter with Unite. We would note that the Group involved (i.e. that have balloted for action) are in managerial roles and are a relatively small group which represents no more than 3% of the total Irish workforce”, went the statement issued by C&C.

The Unite union have called on the company to honour the terms of the agreement pending engagement with the LRC. The union stated that the company had made one of the Unite member redundant on terms which will amount to around half of what was agreed in 2009.

Unite represents managerial grades in the Bulmers Clonmel brewery, comprising 24 workers. SIPTU and the TEEU represent other grades. The 2009 collective agreement was concluded under the auspices of Kevin Foley of the LRC.

Unite Regional Officer Tony Kelly said - “Despite an unambiguous agreement concluded in 2009 between Bulmers and the unions, the company has now made one of our members redundant on terms which will amount to around half of what was agreed. Inexplicably, the company has informed the workers represented by Unite that they are not covered by the 2009 agreement.

“While this dispute only affects the managerial grades represented by Unite, I would like to thank the other unions representing workers in Bulmers for their support.

“Following a unanimous vote by Unite members for industrial action, it is in the company’s interests to continue honouring the 2009 agreement which was negotiated under the auspices of the LRC, pending engagement under the same auspices”, Mr Kelly concluded.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has expressed his solidarity with the workers at Clonmel’s Bulmers plant and called for the C&C CEO Stephen Glancey to resolve the matter. Deputy McGrath has been voicing concerns over the future viability of the plant for the last two years

He said - “I am calling for an immediate meeting with C&C CEO Stephen Glancey to try and resolve this matter. We must not forget that despite the Clonmel operation generating hundreds of millions in profit for the Group over the last five years, the staff in Clonmel was denied a bonus last year. The Group is seeking to further increase those profits at the expense of workers who generated them by its refusal to honour these redundancy arrangements”.

Deputy McGrath said he would be attending the C&C annual meeting in Dublin on Thursday and he along with the unions would be asking Mr Glancey “just what exactly are the intentions of C&C around transferring more of their operations to Belfast and Scotland which is still very much a live issue.”

“We must get absolute clarity for the majority of the employees and the resumption of decent and respectful work practices at the Bulmers Plant,” concluded Deputy McGrath.