April 3rd: Latest jobs cull in Ballymena is driven by reckless greed and comes at a time of swelling corporate profits
Workers left with little confidence in management promises made while company’s corporate executives face US trial
Sean McKeever, Unite Regional Officer representing the bulk of Moy Park’s workforce in Northern Ireland questioned the temporary nature of the shutdown of the kill-line and hatchery and the threat it posed to up to the livelihoods of four hundred workers in Ballymena.
“Unite is highly concerned at this news of a temporary closure of the ‘kill-line’ at Ballymena. Our members on the shop-floor are reporting that they have been told that this will result in up to four hundred job losses although the company are telling the media that there will be no job losses and that redundancies can be avoided through redeployment elsewhere. While Unite does not hold recognition rights for this workforce, Unite is the only trade union on the ground in North Antrim and we do not accept the need or case for any job losses in Ballymena or anywhere else in Northern Ireland.
“Moy Park’s latest annual pre-tax profits were just short of £60 million – an enormous increase of 67 percent on the year previously. Current owners, Pilgrim’s Pride, declared net earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $798 million in 2018. This is not a company that needs to squeeze its workforce – this is a company which is attacking workers’ pay and conditions to maximise profits for their corporate shareholders.
“Moy Park was sold by JBS SA, Brazilian meat-packing giant, to one of its own subsidiaries Pilgrim’s Pride Corp of the USA. At the time, Unite warned that the likely intent of JBS senior global corporate management was to use new management to cut jobs and pay and the workforce’s confidence in management is already at rock-bottom. Indeed today’s announcement comes only a fortnight after a Delaware judge ruled that executives from JBS SA and Pilgrim’s Pride will face trial over a shareholder lawsuit relating to the acquisition of Moy Park in 2017. The court heard allegations that the sale was forced on JBS subsidiary Pilgrim’s Pride to meet the costs of a $3 billion fine imposed on the parent company for activities including the reported bribery of one thousand officials. It is little wonder that workers have little confidence in the commitments of this employer.
“Moy Park management is telling the press that this is only a temporary closure necessitated by an overhaul of the kill-line. The workforce have been left with little confidence that the promised investment will manifest or that the line will reopen as promised in January 2020. If they are genuine about these promises, Moy Park management must offer guarantees that no worker whether agency or otherwise will be made redundant. In the absence of such a commitment, this decision effectively threatens to sacrifice the livelihoods of up to 400 workers’ and 400 families in Ballymena for corporate greed and the drive for ever greater profits”, Mr McKeever said.