BY EMMA CONNOLLY
IN one of the worst jobs blows in West Cork’s history, ABP Bandon has temporarily laid off 255 of its staff without pay, until further notice.
Mainly factory workers, the staff were let go from the Kilbrogan plant on Tuesday, which has a total workforce of 300.
The announcement was made during the second week of blockades by protesting beef farmers, which have seen no goods move either on, or off, the Bandon site.
A statement from ABP said: ‘This is due to the impact of the ongoing protests and illegal blockades at the Bandon site since the end of July.
It added: ‘These protests have severely restricted the company from carrying out its normal day-to-day operations.
‘ABP will stay in contact with impacted staff members and provide them with regular updates. It is regrettable that the company has had to take this course of action. ABP has no objection whatsoever to lawful and peaceful protest.’
Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said that 3,000 employees of its members have now been temporarily laid off, due to the continuing illegal blockades of factories.
MII withdrew from a second round of talks earlier this week over the continuing blockades of processing plants.
However, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed told MII that by not engaging with their customers, they were effectively shutting down the industry.
Minister Creed said talks had to happen now, and ‘not before the last man standing on the picket line is hauled before the courts.’
Kerry TD Danny Healy Rae showed his support to protestors at ABP Bandon when he visited on Tuesday night.
He said that if farmers’ incomes weren’t protected, than rural Ireland was in jeopardy. West Cork TD Michael Collins visited the group on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, the Beef Plan Movement began a picket at leading food and retail wholesaler Musgrave, on the Tramore Road in Cork city, yesterday afternoon (Wednesday). Members came from throughout Cork, Clare and Kerry.
Vice-chair of the Cork group, Kilnamartyra beef farmer Ger Dineen, said they wanted to highlight the fact that it wasn’t just factories putting restrictions on the sector, but also the multiples.
‘Farmers are going broke and can’t pay their bills, but other parties would prefer to shut down the industry with their bullyboy tactics. The whole economy is going to go down with this, and no one is listening to us,’ he said.
Farmers’ primary issue is that their production costs are an average of €4.20p/kg, but they’re only being paid €3.50p/kg.
But Mr Dineen has also called for the appointment of a regulator to the beef industry to look at other rules which farmers claim are unnecessary and restrictive.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney said a regulator could be a possible solution to the dispute.