STRIKE: Liebherr workers on strike on Wednesday. Pictured were: Mike Fleming, TJ McCarthy and David Breen with colleagues. Photo: Michelle Crean


By Sean Moriarty

Industrial action at the Liebherr Container Crane factory in Fossa could escalate as SIPTU members have confirmed this week that they are planning one-hour rolling stoppages later this month.

On Wednesday, approximately 50 electrical workers of the Connect Trade Union took part in a day-long strike from 6.30am to 8pm.

However, the situation could worsen as members of SIPTU, the union that represents about 300 members of the 800-strong work force, voted last month, to stage further one-hour walk-outs on March 25, from 7.30am to 11.30pm.

It is understood SIPTU members did not pass Wednesday’s picket in support of their colleagues.

Workers, who are no longer on a three day week and are back to work full-time, are rowing with factory management over sick pay arrangements.

They say the previous sick pay arrangement was replaced by a new scheme without consultation with the workers.

Talks are on-going at the factory but trade union bosses at Connect say these negotiations cannot continue until the sick pay row is solved.

“Liebherr Container Cranes has unilaterally altered our members Terms and Conditions of Employment,” Mark Doybbn, Connect Trade Union Regional Secretary said. “There is a collective agreement in place with a framework set out should either side seek changes to the Terms and Conditions of Employment.

“This timeframe has not been adhered to by Liebherr Container Cranes and they have moved to make changes without consultation or agreement.”

Connect Trade Union and its members employed in Liebherr Container Cranes have over the past 12 months been involved in assisting Liebherr Container Cranes to try and reduce its cost base in order to make them more competitive in the market place, he added.

The Board of Managing Directors of Liebherr Container Cranes who have been operating in Killarney for 60 years, said in a statement issued to the Killarney Advertiser, that the company’s priority was to protect its future against this rising global competition.

“Liebherr is disappointed with the strike action which has taken place and remains open to discussion with unions on how to address the increased competition that the company faces,’ the statement read.

“Management must at all times honour the existing agreements on how discussion and agreements with both unions take place. Liebherr management is on standby to engage with unions and it is important and urgent that this takes place as soon as possible.”