Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster, Sinn Féin TD says the time has come for An Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, to intervene in the ongoing dispute at the Premier Periclase Ltd plant in Drogheda, where workers have been on strike now for 12 days.
The Deputy says she has written to the Minister requesting that he facilities talks to recommence at the Workplace Relations Commission.
“Workers have been on strike for almost a fortnight now at the plant, due to the unreasonable changes that management is trying to impose upon staff,” she said. “It has been brought to my attention that the management at Premier Periclase have made the collective agreement at the company null and void.
“This is a deeply worrying development that will have negatively affect workers at the plant, as well as the industrial relations structure that operates in this state.”
The Drogheda-based TD says she believes the economic turmoil brought on my the Covid-19 pandemic is offering companies an “excuse” to behave in this way.
“Companies must not be allowed to use the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to dismantle workers’ rights. Workers need certainty that collective agreements will be honoured during this crisis. I have written to Minister Leo Varadkar asking him to intervene to ensure that existing workers’ rights are protected, and I have asked that his department facilitates a return to talks at the Workplace Relations Commission as a matter of urgency.”
On Wednesday, SIPTU representatives strongly condemned what they perceived as a threat by management at the Premier Periclase plant in Drogheda to sack workers if they do not return to work.
Workers on strike at the plant, operated by RHI Magnesita, reacted angrily to last Friday’s development which saw the company deliver letters to the employees home by taxi. The letter stated that the collective agreement between parent company RHI Magnesita and workers at the Premier Periclase plant was ‘no longer valid’. The letters were returned to the company in a move described as a “clear rejection of the company’s threats and its proposal that they return to work on unclear and undefined terms.”