Union slams management refusal to engage with workers
Retention of Dundalk jobs and protection of taxpayer must be priorities
October 19th: Unite, which represents workers at Dundalk’s Authentic Food Company site, has today met with the liquidators appointed by the High Court to the plant. Speaking after the meeting, Unite’s Senior Officer in the Republic, Brendan Ogle, said that there are serious questions surrounding the proposed liquidation of the plant, and he said that Unite will be writing to Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys over the weekend to update her on the union’s concerns and seek an urgent meeting. Mr Ogle warned that Unite would not tolerate a repeat of the Clery’s situation whereby workers and taxpayers were asked to pick up the tab for what he termed ‘sharp corporate practice’.
“The Authentic Food Co only acquired the Dundalk plant from Heinz in 2015, and in their 2017 annual report they highlighted the key role played by the Dundalk plant in the company’s future strategy. In this context, and given the company’s persistent refusal to engage with the workers or their union over the past number of weeks, preferring to communicate through the local media, there is an obvious question surrounding the basis for today’s closure announcement and the decision to seek the appointment of liquidators, and we are taking legal advice in this regard.
“Unite today advised the liquidators that if it transpires that TAFC is simply trying to find a cost-effective way to extricate itself from its operations in Dundalk, Unite will leave no stone unturned – either in Ireland or in the UK, where we represent well over a million members – to ensure that neither the workers nor the Irish taxpayer are asked to pick up the tab.
“Unite will be meeting the liquidators again on Monday, and will be maintaining close contact with them prior to the return court date of November 12th. After meeting the liquidators again on Monday, we will be holding a General Meeting of our members to update them.
“Unite will also be engaging with local political representatives and state agencies in an attempt not only to clarify the legal situation but to chart a way forward for the plant and our members’ jobs”, Mr Ogle concluded.