North Tipperary Deputy Michael Lowry spoke in Dail Eirean about the takeover of M&J Gleeson of C&C. He said,
“Since the takeover of M&J Gleeson’s I have made efforts to seek clarification from C&C on their future intentions. Their responses were particularly guarded and rather coy, leading me to be suspicious of their forward planning and its implications. My publicly expressed concerns at the time are now unfortunately well founded.
In recent weeks several employees of Gleeson’s Borrisoleigh and Bulmer’s Clonmel have contacted me directly to express frustration at the lack of information and mixed messages coming from a so-called consultative process.
Employees are understandably worried, anxious and fearful for their future. The company is hiding behind the review process and keeping most of its staff in the dark.
• As you are aware, M&J Gleeson were taken over by C&C in late November. This was approved by the Competition Authority and sanctioned on the 6th of March of this year.
•A new CEO of Bulmer’s and M&J Gleeson was appointed.
•In May it was announced that Bulmer’s Ireland was to be subsumed into M&J Gleeson and critically it was indicated that this would include proposals to introduce some All-Ireland Structures.
•In recent months there have been a large number of redundancies in Bulmer’s Clonmel.
•It has now been announced internally that C&C intend to move the administration, accountancy and marketing functions to Belfast. This is a carving up of administrative functions. This will mean the loss of 50 jobs;
-10 admin jobs in Borrisoleigh,
-15 in Clonmel,
-25 in Dublin.
• C&C’s rational for this move is that they claim it would make a cost saving of 20% to move these functions to Belfast.
•I find it staggering to be told that administration costs can be ran 20% cheaper in a small office in Belfast.
•I question the motivation for this move to Belfast considering that C&C has huge corporate bases at Parkwest in Dublin, Cherry Orchard in Dublin and Borrisoleigh.
•The company is also stating that it will announce the results of its manufacturing review in April next year and that it is also reviewing the requirements for its depots in Southern Ireland.
•The company is engaged in a crude, cost cutting exercise which has a huge human impact. Minister, it should also be noted that pay, general terms and conditions are
much more favourable at Bulmers than at M&J Gleesons. For example the redundancy terms for M&J Gleeson employees stands at 2 weeks per year of service in contrast to 6.5 weeks at Bulmers. C&C instead of actively trying to force lesser pay and redundancy terms onto Bulmers workers should agredd to equalise the redundancy terms for Gleeson employees at the higher rate of 6.5 weeks.
Due to a combination of these actions there is widespread trepidation regarding the potential impact on the existing operations and its employees. The Gleeson Group in Tipperary is a steadfast, major employer and an enormous contributor to the local economy. It is vital that its current operations are protected to the maximum extent.
There are consequences for employment should C&C have a policy to centralise any element of its manufacturing. C&C has a duty to the workforce to be open and transparent in respect of its decisions. It is fair and reasonable to demand that C&C explain the motivation behind its commercial strategy.
C&C needs to be upfront and honest with its loyal and dedicated workforce. It needs to have meaningful dialogue and share information.
It needs to understand that rather than just number crunching it is dealing with real people, people with jobs, people with careers. It’s dealing with the livelihood of families and their future. Staff at Borrisoleigh and Clonmel must be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
The Minister and state agencies must convey our serious concerns to the highest level of management at C&C.