EMPLOYEES of an Enniscorthy firm have secured their jobs after protesting outside the gates of a power station site near New Ross at the arrival of foreign workers.
The employees of KDK Scaffolding on the Old Dublin Road were to the fore in a picket line at Great Island, annoyed that Irish firms had not even been given the opportunity to tender for future work on the generating plant. KDK and its staff have been working at the site for more than a year but the workmen became concerned when four Spanish scaffolders arrived.
'We have already been on the site and our work is at the best standard,' explained KDK foreman Keith Dwyer, a member of SIPTU and spokesman for the 27 workers on the KDK payroll. 'We are all Wexford men looking for Wexford jobs.'
The picket was mounted when it was learned that Irish firms had been excluded from submitting tenders for a contract that is set to run for another year or more. The action brought activity in Great Island practically to a halt and prompted emergency talks which lasted long into the night at the Brandon House hotel in New Ross.
The KDK workforce is recruited from Wexford, Duncannon, Fethard and Campile, but the biggest contingent hails from the firm's home district of Enniscorthy. Thursday night's negotiations produced a favourable result, with the skilled men on the site given guarantees that they will be retained.
'We came out with good news,' confirmed Keith Dwyer. He was able to tell his colleagues that their jobs were secure for the duration of the construction period and the developers of the power plant will continue to back KDK's policy of providing specialist training to the less experienced members of the crew.
'There were tears in men's eyes,' reported the foreman. 'That is how much this means to them.'