Saturday 7 December 2019

SK Biotek workers 'locked out'

Ken Phelan

Over 140 workers at Swords-based pharmaceutical manufacturing plant SK Biotek were placed on protective notice last week, following a two-week campaign of industrial action by Siptu workers over working conditions.

As a result of the industrial action, SK Biotek said it had 'no option' but to issue protective notice to employees, with temporary lay-offs commencing from Wednesday November 13.

Siptu Organiser, Jim Fuery, said last week: 'The company wrote to our members in a letter that arrived on Monday morning informing them it was placing them on protective notice, and that the plant would not be operating from 8.30am today.

'In a gesture of goodwill to the company last Saturday, our members suspended industrial action which began in October. In response, the company has in effect locked them out of their workplace.'

The ongoing dispute relates to a collective agreement which formed part of a 'protection of employees on a transfer of undertakings' (TUPE) agreement, which was concluded when the plant was brought under new management in December 2017.

Mr Fuery said that SIPTU members were forced into taking industrial action 'as a last resort' due to the 'intransigence' of management, which he said had refused to attend conciliation conferences at the WRC.

Mr Fuery said the union was calling on the company to 'immediately end the lockout of our members and allow them to return to work.'

A statement issued by SK Biotek says the company is 'disappointed that unions at the Swords site have recently engaged in industrial action'.

The company says the dispute 'has caused the company to effectively close down its core manufacturing operations'.

SK Biotec, the statement read, had 'no choice' but to issue Protective Notices to employees 'in the impacted areas.'

The company says it has written formally to the relevant trade unions, seeking an 'urgent' response, and for them to re-engage in discussions at the WRC.

Fingal Independent