The fate of 100 seasonal workers at the former Cappoquin Chickens now hangs in the balance, as 100 permanent workers this week applied to return to the plant on a reduced wage.
Cappoquin Chickens was sold last Friday after the troubled company fell into liquidation. The newly formed Cappoquin Poultry is to focus on the production of Halal chicken (chicken that has been slaughtered according to Muslim law), necessitating a reorganisation of the plant and the loss of about 50 jobs.
Described by SIPTU branch secretary Davy Lane as ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t’, the permanent workers accepted a deal from the plant’s new British owners Perwiaz Latif and Zahid Hussain on Monday which will mean wages of €9 an hour and an extra 25% for overtime – an increase of 35 cent on what was initially being offered. However 50 employees will not be reinstated and it’s not yet known if the 100 or so seasonal workers will be recalled next Spring.
The permanent workers had earlier rejected terms offered by Mr Latif and Mr Hussain which included minimum rate wages of €8.65 an hour and no overtime rate, even though they were expected to be available for overtime. Mr Lane said many workers were disappointed with the offer because they had already made huge sacrifices to save the company in recent months.
All employees of the former Cappoquin Chickens will be entitled to statutory redundancy from previous owners M D O’Connor and Sons Ltd. Paul O’Connor and Michael O’Connor Jnr, members of the original family which founded Cappoquin Chickens, have also taken minority stakes in the new company, along with former Financial Officer, Tom Vaughan.
Staff will have to reapply for their jobs from Cappoquin Poultry and the new owners, who also control Derby Poultry in the UK, have given an undertaking to review wage structures in six months’ time. The company is to engage in a period of gradual growth to re-establish market share and, as part of this process, it will source a new hatchery following the sale of the Cappoquin Chickens hatchery in recent weeks.
The 100 seasonal workers at the plant are, as yet, unsure of their fate and Mr Lane said they’ll have to ‘wait and see’ whether their services will be required by the company. Seasonal workers were traditionally taken on at Cappoquin Chickens from around Easter to September.