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Moy Park strike ballot called by Unite in defence of workforce terms and conditions

Strike ballot of more than three thousand Unite members in largest Northern Ireland employer will proceed in coming weeks.

16 April 2019, at 10:48a.m.

Sean McKeever, Unite regional officer representing Unite’s members at Moy Park sites across Northern Ireland confirmed that the union would be balloting members over unreasonable management demands in ongoing pay negotiations.

“When Moy Park was sold by Brazilian meat-packing giant JBS SA to one of its own subsidiaries, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp of the USA, Unite the union forecasted that this would presage a broader onslaught on workforce terms and conditions. Sadly the accuracy of that forecast is now apparent to every Moy Park worker in Northern Ireland.

“From our first meetings with the incoming management team it was apparent that they were intent on attacking terms and conditions of workers in the region which remain among the best of any workforce in the UK agri-food industry. In recent pay negotiations they have brought forward proposals seeking to undermine Shift Allowances, Sickness scheme, Holiday entitlement, Attendance allowance, Nomi/Statutory days and decent breaks – T&Cs that were hard won by this workforce over many years and which are simply not up for negotiation.

“Moy Park’s workforce in Northern Ireland has a strong and well-organised team of Unite workplace representatives. We recently defeated an attempt to divide maintenance engineers from the bargaining unit and saw off attempts to keep union officials off-site. Management need to think again – this is not a workforce that will stand by as they slash and burn their way in a race-to-the-bottom on rights and entitlements.

“The company’s latest annual pre-tax profits were just short of £60 million – an enormous increase of 67 percent on the year previously. Its current owners Pilgrim’s Pride declared net earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $798 million in 2018. These are not businesses that are struggling for survival, the attacks on workers’ pay and conditions are simply part of a drive to maximise profits and increase returns for corporate shareholders.

“Unite is now preparing the roll-out of a ballot on all-out strike action of our more than three thousand members working for Moy Park in Northern Ireland. Management need to recognise the determination of this workforce before it leads to unnecessary and entirely avoidable disruption to their operations here”, Mr McKeever said.

A Moy Park spokespearson said: “We are aware of the recent union statement and we will continue to engage with the union and work towards a negotiated agreement.”