MORE JOB LOSS AGONY FOR MITCHELSTOWN
More bad news is on the cards for Mitchelstown as the workers at the Breeo Foods plant have been told officially that they will lose their jobs in the coming months. Reeling from the announcement, the 30 affected workers were told by Kerry Group that their jobs would be gone by the end of September.
A spokesperson for Kerry Group expressed the company’s regret, “After conducting our study of the processes and operations at Breeo Foods in Mitchelstown, Kerry Group has taken the decision to consolidate production to other plants in the group. Consultation with the employees is underway and unfortunately production at Breeo Foods in Mitchelstown will end in 30 days,” the Kerry Group spokesperson told The Avondhu this week.
It is clear, however, that the job losses, which were predicted in The Avondhu some weeks ago, are as a result of the high profile and controversial sale of many of the top Dairygold brands to Kerry Group over the last few months. Local TD, Ned O’Keeffe (FF) is not surprised that Kerry Group has decided to shed jobs in Mitchelstown.
“The total number of jobs to be lost will be far more than 30, I can see at least 50 to 60 people losing their jobs in and around Mitchelstown over the next few months because of this move by the Kerry Group. I said months ago that as soon as Kerry takes over the brands from Dairygold, then the jobs would be gone. Taking these world famous brands out of Mitchelstown was a disaster not only for the town but for the country as well. It’s a sad day for Mitchelstown,” Deputy O’Keeffe said.
Labour Party spokesperson on Agriculture and Food, Sean Sherlock TD, has said the workers at the Breeo Foods facility in Mitchelstown must be treated with decency and fairness when it comes to the negotiation of a redundancy package. Deputy Sherlock said the Kerry Group, which will now consolidate all production of the Dairygold butter brand in Listowel, must ensure workers get a fair deal.
“Some workers have given almost 40 years of loyal and dedicated service to the company. They deserve to have the part they played in making Dairygold a brand leader reflected in their redundancy payment as it is going to be very difficult for these people to find alternative employment,” Deputy Sherlock added.
The local Labour TD said the situation further highlighted the need for access to credit for small local businesses to ensure their growth and survival going forward.
“The focus of government policy has to be redirected to stopping the jobs haemorrhage and getting people back to work. We need to get credit flowing again to small business, which is where jobs can be created. We also need to give employers tax breaks to take on additional workers. This government has to stop ignoring the unemployment crisis and start tackling the problem head on with positive initiatives,” he told The Avondhu.
Dairy farmer, P J English from Clogheen, feels that Mitchelstown and the Dairygold shareholders have been left down once again: “It was always on the cards that if the brands were sold to the Kerry Group then Mitchelstown would be axed. When the talks were going on about the sale of the brands it should have been made part of the overall deal that the Mitchelstown plant remain within the group.
"Many people said it at the time that when the Kerry Group takes control of Breeo Foods, then Mitchelstown will suffer and we were proved right,” Mr English said.
What will these latest job losses mean to the economy of the town? Chairman of the Mitchelstown Business Association (MBA), Eamonn O’Brien is concerned about the effect it will have on Mitchelstown.
Speaking to The Avondhu he said: “These jobs were important not only to the local economy but to local families as well. I think now it is more important than ever to ensure that we as a community support local businesses, services and jobs.”
Thursday 13th August 6:40pm