Minister Richard Bruton has said the State’s industrial relations machinery remains ready to provide support to help resolve a dispute at the Liebherr plant in Killarney, Co Kerry.
Mr Bruton warned both sides in the dispute over pay to reflect on what is at stake if the dispute isn’t resolved and the potential consequences for Killarney and the broader southwest region.
He said: “The industrial relations machinery of the State remains ready to provide support to help resolve this dispute, and I urge all parties to re-engage in discussions.
“Liebherr is a good employer and a key facility in the region. The company has provided jobs and a good living for a number of generations of people in the region and I hope that the company will maintain and create more jobs for future generations as well.
“It is important that all parties bear in mind what is at stake in this situation and the potential consequences for Killarney and the broader south west region”.
Last night a ballot on Labour Court recommendations aimed at resolving the issue were rejected by a 163 to 107 majority of SIPTU members.
The union represents about 300 of the crane manufacturing plant’s 670 workforce.
The German-owned company has been based in Fossa outside Killarney since the late 1950s.
The union staged a one-day strike at the plant in November in relation to their four-year pay claim.
The matter had been referred to the Labour Court and its recommendations for a 2.5pc pay, backdated to May 2012, were accepted by management at the company in December.
The increase was also subject to changes in work practices at the plant.
However, management expressed its “disappointment” at the actions of a “minority” of its staff and said their actions had compromised its future operations in Kerry and it had already started sending work to other plants in Germany.
Liebherr is one of the biggest employers in Kerry and the largest in the manufacturing sector.
The company has an annual wage bill of €40m at the plant but pays out a further €30m for the other services related to its Killarney operations including transport and engineering companies.
Mayor of Killarney Paddy Courtney said there was a lot of concern in the area relating to the dispute.
“Hopefully both sides can find some common ground and renegotiate an agreement with a bit of tweaking on all sides,” Mr Courtney said.
Both SIPTU and management at Liebherr have yet to respond to last night’s developments. Source: The Irish Independent.