Members of trade union SIPTU at Kerry Group have called on its management to attend negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to seek a resolution to a dispute concerning redundancies.

Following an announcement by Kerry Group in February that 150 jobs were at risk of being outsourced to Malaysia and Mexico from its business centers in Naas and Charleville, SIPTU representatives said they have engaged with the company to try and secure an acceptable agreement on behalf of union members.

The jobs affected are primarily in the finance, human resource, data management and regulatory functions.

Kerry Group called on to ‘reverse decision’

SIPTU organiser Terry Bryan said that the proposed job losses could not come at a worse time for the workers involved and their families.

“Many of these workers face the prospect of unemployment with the potential of an economic recession following the devastating effects of Covid-19 on employment levels,” Bryan added.

“In discussions with the company, agreement could not be reached on the proposed job losses, the redundancy terms, the selection criteria and the transition arrangements.

“In line with accepted state resolution procedures, we referred the matter to the WRC. However, the company has declined the invitation from the WRC to enter talks.”

SIPTU has called on Kerry Group to “reverse its decision” and engage at the WRC with the union “with a view to finding a solution”.

“Failure on the company’s part to do so will leave SIPTU with no other alternative other than to consider a ballot of its members for industrial and/or strike action.”

‘Simplifying the way it operates’

In February, Kerry Group said it was “necessary to make organisational changes to reflect the evolution” of the group.

“With 150 sites across the world, the company is making a number of changes to ensure that it remains close to its growth markets while also simplifying the way that it operates,” a spokesperson said.

“It is anticipated that up to 150 people who are currently based in Ireland will be made redundant over the next six to 12 months.

“Kerry will work closely with its employees and representative groups to support everyone over the coming period, providing severance packages and outplacement services including training, interview skills and coaching.”