Belfast Telegraph

Posts at risk as Co Down dairy's new owner cuts back production

By Margaret Canning

A number of dairy jobs are at risk in a creamery employing 72 people in Co Down after its new owner announced a move to seasonal production.

Lakeland Dairies in Co Cavan bought the Banbridge plant from Fane Valley in May after taking over its dairy business.

Lakeland claimed the Banbridge plant had received limited investment up until its takeover, with the result that it was restricted to make products for which demand fell at certain times of year.

The spokesman said: "Global dairy markets have continued to be very challenging and farmers' incomes and milk prices have reduced severely due to market volatility. As a result the move to seasonal processing is appropriate at this time."

It said it also used seasonal production methods in plants in Co Monaghan and Co Cavan.

The spokesman said temporary lay-offs were possible between next month until spring next year, but that redundancies could be considered.

However, he would not say how many jobs were at risk. But he added that redundancies would be made on a voluntary basis, with redeployment where possible.

The company is now in consultation with trade unions.

Martin O'Rourke, organiser at trade union SIPTU, said the announcement of a move to seasonal production had been a shock to the staff at Banbridge.

"This will result in a large number of redundancies and only six months work a year for the vast majority of the remaining staff," said Mr O'Rourke.

"The workers were extremely angered and disappointed that the media was informed of these plans before their SIPTU representatives had an opportunity to meet with the company to question them."

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