26 October 2012 One Comment by The Northern Standard

By Michael McDonnell

A stand-off has developed at Co-operative Poultry Products Ltd, Cootehill, where workers are staging a sit-in to pursue their demands for up-front payments of money they say they are due, including outstanding pay, notice pay, annual leave and minimum statutory redundancy entitlements.
Mr Simon Coyle of the accountancy firm Mazars was appointed receiver by the company’s bank on Monday evening, signalling the loss of up on 90 jobs (including upwards of 70 production staff, with the remainder working in management and administration).
The livelihoods of a further 25 chicken growers (about one third of whom are the main shareholders in the company) are also at risk, as are those of contractors, sub-contractors and people working in subsidiary support services like the meal industry.
It is understood that about 35 out of over 70 former production workers, the majority of whom are eastern European nationals, staged a sit-in on Tuesday night, and have indicated their determination to remain in place until such time as the company moves on their demands.
The receiver, Mr Coyle, however, has stated that the company is unable to pay the full redundancy at present, and that this application would have to be made through the Department of Social Protection. The workers were refusing an offer for a week’s wages, he said.
For their part, the employees say they cannot afford to wait for five months for money to come via the Department.
Co-operative Poultry Products, which went under the trading name of Cootehill Farms, was one of only four major poultry production plants left in the Republic, where economic difficulties over the last decade have already taken their toll on a number of leading producers.
In a statement released this week (printed below), the Co-op’s management committee said it regretted having to ask Bank of Ireland to put the company into receivership, but cited substantial feed price rises, rising energy costs, poor market factors, and “low quality” imports as “factors presenting a grave risk to many of the players in the entire Irish Poultry industry”.
The statement confirmed that, as reported in last week’s Northern Standard, Co-op Poultry Products had sought a potential purchaser but to no avail.
In this regard, “no stone has been left unturned” in trying to “secure a deal which safeguarded the business and the many jobs, directly and indirectly, attached to it”, the company said. But “unsustainable losses” had left the committee with no option but to place the business in receivership in the hope that a deal might still be secured with a buyer.
Local Fine Gael TD Heather Humphreys said the closure marked a “sad day” for Cootehill, and that Enterprise Ireland was working with the company to try and find an alternative operator for what was a modern processing plant.
Brendan Smith TD, a former agriculture minister, said …

One Comment »

  • sinead boyce said:

    €50k worth of chicken had 2 be dumped because of this sit in. €50k thrown in the bin & u claim 2 be fighting for money owing to you. Seriously iud you even think it through? Mindless!