MANAGEMENT at Irish Cement have been accused of attempting to “starve people to go back to work”, as some 50 men in Limerick maintain their picket for the fourth week of the official strike.
Staff locally say they are now attempting to freeze their mortgages payments with the banks, as they are living on less than €200 strike pay per week.
The staff at the Castlemungret plant are owed between €5,500 and €9,500 each in increments, with the Labour Court recommending five months ago that the sum be paid.
However, the company has refused to do so, saying that staff must first accept a wage cut of up to 23%, which has been described as “savage” by one of the unions representing workers.
Karan O’Loughlin, regional organiser of SIPTU, told the Limerick Leader: “They going to try and starve these people back to work. Nearly 100 years after the 1913 Lockout some employers are still of the frame of mind that they can beat you by starving you back to work and that’s just not acceptable. They need to come back to the table under the heading of the Labour Court recommendation”
Ms O’Loughlin said the three unions involved between the Limerick plant and the company’s head office in Platin, Louth, have not been involved in discussions with the company in recent days, “as they [Irish Cement] seem prepared to stick it out.”
Irish Cement is a subsidiary of CRH, one of the world’s leading building materials companies.
On Wednesday, staff protested outside the CRH head office in Dublin and met with a number of local TDs in the Dail.
Next week they plan to protest outside the CRH AGM in Dublin and are calling on shareholders to oppose the re-election of directors on the basis of the bonuses they accrue, and the current refusal to pay monies owed to the workers. “You can’t say you need to be more competitive on one hand, and then on the other fork out €1m for one board member,” added Ms O’Loughlin, referring to the salaries and pensions of the company’s most senior members.
When contacted, the company re-issued their earlier statement on the strike through a PR company. They said there is an “urgent need for reductions in pay rates”, and expressed disappointment that attempts to hold meaningful discussions have failed.