Union unhappy with Limerick company ‘imposing’ three-day week 

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Union unhappy with Limerick company ‘imposing’ three-day week 

Kostal Abbeyfeale has put 200 of its 693 workers on part time hours

KOSTAL in Abbeyfeale has confirmed that 200 of its 693 workers have been put on a  three-day week since last Friday because of reduced demand for one of its products.

The arrangement, the company said, is expected to last five weeks until April 19.

But Siptu, the union representing workers in the plant, is not happy with the company’s approach and says the move was made without their agreement.

Joe Kelly, industrial organiser with Siptu, said he was only informed there was a problem  the week before the company imposed the three-day week.

“We met the company on Tuesday, March 12, and they us that due to circumstances outside their control, production had to be cut and they were imposing a three-day week,” Mr Kelly said.

“To impose a three-day week, without our agreement, and at that short notice is unfortunate to say the least,” Mr Kelly said. “It is ten days’ pay lost,” he added. 

The union was now consulting with members, he continued, and was looking closely at members’ contracts. However, he added, they have remained in communication with Kostal and are seeking to schedule another meeting. 

In a statement released to the Leader, a spokesman for Kostal explained their reason for the three-day week. It was, he said, due to “an unexpected reduction in customer demand” for its on-board charger products that are used in all-electric and plug-ins in hybrid electric vehicles.

The company gave no explanation as to what was behind the reduction in demand but it is understood it was not Brexit-related.

Kostal has two plants in Ireland, one in Abbeyfeale and a second in Mallow, employing  1038 workers in total and manufacturing electronic and mechatronic products for the automobile industry.

“It is disappointing news but if that is what it takes to keep the plant going, then so be it,” local councillor Liam Galvin said this Tuesday. “I would be hoping they would be back up in full production again in five weeks.”

The Kostal announcement has, however, come as an unsettling surprise in the town which is heavily dependent on the plant for employment.

“It is only for a few weeks, but it’s still a bit of a joke. I’ve rent to pay and mouths to feed,” was the reaction of one employee. “Things are going from bad to worse for this town. Kostal is one of the last places providing work in Abbeyfeale and if it was to close, we would be in trouble.”