Laois factory staff 'shocked and angry' with SIPTU worried for jobs

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Laois factory staff 'shocked and angry' with SIPTU worried for jobs

One of the two Standex plants in Mountmellick.

Staff at Standex Ireland's factories in Mountmellick, Laois were shocked and angry to hear that some were being put on a shorter week recently.

The announcement by the US owned factory was made to the 60 staff in late October. The company blamed a loss in demand for their products, pump components for the European market.

It was a move that raised fear in SIPTU about the security of the jobs.

John Guinen is the SIPTU union rep for Standex staff.
“There was shock and anger when staff were told. And the way they were told, with some people just handed envelopes. We thought they should have sat us in a group and told us,” he said.

However, he said that a slowdown had been obvious in production.
“It was not a shock, most people who work there could see the orders slacking off a small bit. I wondered how long the company could stick it. I would be concerned for jobs. They say they will review in January but that’s not saying the hours will be back up again,” Mr Guinen said.

Speaking ahead of the compromised outcome agreed between the Union, management and staff in early November, he said that the decision to cut some workers' hours and not others has caused dissent among staff.

Some of the workers chosen to be put on the shorter week are with the company for over 30 years.

“What the company wants to do is not fair. We had a meeting with the company to thrash out a fair situation, that everyone suffers evenly,” the union rep had said.

About 45 of the workers work in production, maintenance and quality control with another 15 or 16 in the administration section. Under the agreed compromise arrangement, all 45 will share a three day/five day weekly rota.
One of the employees who had spoken to the Leinster Express said they were all “in limbo”.

“The fear is they will let the 29 workers go on shorter hours and then pick who they want to come back,” he said.
It caused upset amongst staff.

“It's a bad time before Christmas. At the start there was animosity between staff, through no fault of anyone. There was a lot of upset, of pointing fingers, why one person was kept at full hours and another wasn't,” the employee said.

“They are trying to let general operatives go who are here 30 and 40 years, and keep quality control staff who are here a shorter time, and that's where people had a problem,” he said.

“They are all paid the same rate, but some of the staff here longer would have to be retrained to do other work. They are willing to do that,” he said.

On Monday afternoon November 11, the WRC's recommendations as agreed with Standex management, were given by SIPTU to the staff in a meeting at Standex in Mountmellick, with staff then agreeing to share the brunt of the shorter hours evenly.