Workers at NI meat packing factory to go on 24-hour strike

ABP Meats Lurgan Photo courtesy of GoogleABP Meats Lurgan Photo courtesy of Google
ABP Meats Lurgan Photo courtesy of Google
Workers at a Co Armagh meat packing factory are set to go on strike on Monday.

Unite the Union said it plans to bring production at ABP Meats in Lurgan to a standstill on Monday (November 4th).

The strike is over issues over pay and the impact of shifts on childcare responsibilities.

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This will be the first 24 hour strike at the plant and workers aim to start industrial action at Midnight.

The union said it has received 'overwhelming support' for industrial action.

Unite Regional Officer Brian Hewitt explained the background to a planned strike action by his members working in the Lurgan plant of Larry Goodman-owned, Anglo Beef Processing (NI).

“Management in ABP meats in Lurgan have adopted an extremely antagonistic and aggressive approach to their workforce. Workers have been left with no alternative but to take strike action to defend themselves and their families.

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“The first twenty-four hour strike action will commence from midnight on Monday [November 4th] with pickets formed from six am at the gates to the company’s Lurgan plant. The strike action follows an overwhelming 93.1 percent vote of workers for action in an independently conducted industrial ballot.

“Bosses have attempted to push a change to the start times on the workforce and have offered them a measly two percent pay increase in return. The pay increase itself is an insult to the workers. Not only is it significantly below the current rate of inflation – at a time when the ABP meat group are reported in the press to have declared €170 million in profits for 2018 - but it is tied to plans to early start times for shifts.

Parents who work shifts – some of whom earn little more than the bare, legal minimum – are already struggling to secure appropriate care cover for their children in the hours before school. Management plans will only further increase the hardship on working parents through the difficulties and costs involved securing childcare cover.

“Far from recognising the difficulties caused by their plans for those with care responsibilities, ABP meats have adopted an extremely high-handed approach to their employees and to our union.

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“In the mouth of Christmas, workers will be forced to stand long hours on picket lines in the cold, striking to defend their ability to provide care for their children in the mornings.

"Responsibility for this disgraceful situation falls squarely in the lap of ABP bosses. We call on them to step back, see sense and engage with the union in good faith to negotiate terms agreeable to their workforce”, Mr Hewitt concluded.

An ABP spokesperson said: “ABP has been in negotiations with colleague representatives and remains open to and available for further engagement through the appropriate industrial relations channels.”