Union seeks Moy Park meeting over Pilgrim’s deal

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The union Unite is seeking an urgent meeting with Moy Park Chief Executive Janet McCollum to explain cutback plans in the wake of the announced purchase of the firm by US conglomerate Pilgrim’s Pride.

The £1 billion deal was announced on Monday and accompanied by a statement that the new owner hopes to make $50 million (£37m) in synergy savings over the next two years.

“The news that Moy Park has been sold to Pilgrim’s Pride causes serious concerns to our union and our membership,” said Sean McKeever, regional officer with Unite which represents the bulk of the company’s workforce in Northern Ireland.

“We question the logic of JBS selling Moy Park to a company in which they own 76% of the shares if it is not to squeeze even greater profits by lowering costs further.”

Workers in the meatpacking industry were well aware, he said, that lowering costs meant layoffs, lower pay, speed-up, less breaks and more pressure-related accidents.

“Pilgrim’s Pride has boasted to the financial markets that they will deliver $50m in annualised ‘cost savings’ from Moy Park.

“Unite is demanding an urgent meeting with Janet McCollum, who welcomed this sell-off , to clarify just where these savings will be found.

“Unite is putting Pilgrim’s Pride on warning – we are prepared to fight to defeat any race to the bottom on our members’ terms and conditions. You will not make $50 million savings at the expense of our members,” he said.