Trade union UNITE has urged management at Morris Builders Providers in Waterford to rethink its decision to let go 17 workers at the company. The employees have been issued redundancy notice and statutory cheques through the post in recent days.

In a statement released last Friday, the company attributed the move to a dramatic downturn in business as a result, not only of the collapse in the property market, but also an increasingly competitive market place, along with a cost base that is out of line with current trading conditions.

All 85 workers at Morris’ placed a picket at its Cork Road depot two weeks ago in a row over the manner in which redundancies were being sought by the company and this strike action continues to take place. A voluntary redundancy package had been agreed between management and unions at the Labour Court but UNITE officials claim management want the job losses to be ‘manufactured and selective’.

In last week’s statement, the company said it fully accepts recommendations of a Labour Court Hearing in relation to the redundancies, adding that it would meet workers this week to discuss plans.

However, UNITE representative Walter Cullen says the workers were effectively sacked and staff have rejected an invitation to meet with management, saying all negotiations are to take place through their union representatives.

Morris’s opened for business in Waterford in January 1983 and grew to become the largest independent builders merchant and DIY in the South East of Ireland.