FOURTEEN workers in Kilkenny are facing the prospect of joining the dole queue, as Koverto Colour Works Print in Purcellsinch prepares to cut its workforce having refused to negotiate with trade union representatives.
Workers – some of whom have worked there for more than ten years – have been left devastated by the announcement that their jobs are in jeopardy. A 30-day consultation period is currently under way, however workers say they are being denied access to the representation they desire.
Claire Keane, regional officer for the UNITE trade union, says that the company has refused to recognise the union in negotiations.
“We have written to management,” she said.
“They have completely ignored my letters and correspondence. We just want them to meet with us.”
Workers say they have been given few reasons for the decision. They say that their work is being outsourced to Dublin, to the newly-acquired business Print Finishers in Cherry Orchard.
Three years ago, the staff took a 10% pay cut as the company through difficult times. Workers say they have worked weekends, late shifts, and suddenly feel as though the rug has been pulled from under them.
The staff whose jobs are under threat were only told of the move last week, but many feel that it has been a long time in the planning.
“There should have been discussions when this was at the contemplation stage, which we believe was months ago,” says Ms Keane.
“Not after it had been decided. This has now just been dropped on them, and it is very worrying for everyone.”
Those who leave voluntarily now are entitled to three weeks’ redundancy, but if this option is not taken, they will be left with just two weeks. Staff have been told to appoint someone from within their ranks to represent them in negotiations, but they have in turn circulated a petition, with 100% of workers indicating that they wish to have the UNITE union represent them.
“They really feel out of their depth,” says Ms Keane.
“The company has accountants, advisors, HR people, and they are telling staff ‘you can’t have any representation’. They will not negotiate with a trade union, and so the people don’t have all the information to hand, yet they are being told to make a decision.”
Koverto Colour World Print, one of Ireland’s leading print and envelope manufacturers, employs 51 people at its Purcellsinch facility. Repeated attempts to contact managing director Walter Lanigan for comment were unsuccessful.
Colour World holds some very large print contracts, including those for government and semi-state bodies such as the ESB and An Post. Recently, the company was responsible for printing the hundreds of thousands of household charge leaflets to be distributed for the Department of the Environment.
The cull was announced the same week that another business in the envelope industry, the Envelope Supply Company, announced 32 new jobs for Kilkenny.