Strike action ballot planned for 3,000 Moy Park workers

Moy Park Portadown   Photo courtesty of Google
Moy Park Portadown Photo courtesty of Google

More than 3,000 workers in Moy Park are to be balloted for strike action as frustration mounts over pay negotiations.

The workers, mostly on the two main sites at Portadown and Dungannon, are to be balloted on whether they wish to take strike action within weeks.

Moy Park is one of NI’s largest employers and, according to Unite, the union, there has been serious problems with management during negotiations.

Sean McKeever, Unite Regional Officer representing his union’s membership at Moy Park sites, said the union would be balloting 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 NI.

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