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Kostal: Workers at one of Ireland's largest automotive component plants vote in favour of industrial action


Workers at one of Ireland's largest automotive component plants have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a row about employment conditions.

German automotive components firm, Kostal, operates major plants at Mallow in Cork and Abbeyfeale in Kerry.

At peak employment before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the firm employed over 1,000 staff.

Now, SIPTU members at Kostal have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action, at both the Cork and Kerry plants in a dispute over protecting agreed working conditions.

SIPTU organiser, Joe Kelly, said the vote in favour of industrial action to defend existing employment and pay conditions was overwhelming.

“A ballot of our members employed in the Abbeyfeale and Mallow plants returned a result of 98pc in favour of industrial action and 94pc in favour of strike action," he said.

"This ballot was taken as part of a dispute resulting from attempts to unilaterally change our members’ terms and conditions of employment."

“Agreements were reached a number of years ago under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) conciliation service. These provided for SIPTU members in non-production roles to receive bonuses related to performance appraisals as well as bonuses for our members who are at the top of their pay scale and no longer require appraisals.

"Kostal management has made a unilateral decision to not pay these bonuses which provide our members with a once off payment of up to 3pc of basic pay.

“This cut to hard-fought-for terms and conditions has deeply angered our members as evidenced in the ballot results."

SIPTU said that, prior to the ballot, Kostal management was given the opportunity to honour existing agreements and enter meaningful negotiations.

The union said they were left with no option but to ballot for industrial action after this approach was not taken up.

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SIPTU shop steward, Ciara McMahon Flavin, said no-one wanted to see industrial action in the current climate.

“None of our members want to be in this position. However, when our terms and conditions are being stripped it leaves us with no option. It is disappointing we have had to take this course of action but we are united in our resolve to protect our agreed terms and conditions of employment.”

Abbeyfeale SIPTU committee chairperson, Paudie Power, said workers rights had to be defended.

“We have been forced to take this step to protect our rights as employees.”

SIPTU confirmed that committees from both plants will meet later this week to discuss the details and timeline of the proposed industrial action.

A statement from Kostal management is expected later today.

Amongst the products made by Kostal are components for the next-generation of plug-in hybrid and and all-electric vehicles.

The surge in demand for electric vehicles is expected to massively benefit the German components firm over the coming years.

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