30 April 2012 Edition
Lagan Brick workers stage sit-in at Belfast quarry HQ
SINN FÉIN CITY HALL RECEPTION FOR CAVAN STRIKERS
‘The owners of this company are among the richest people in Ireland and must accept their obligation to honour long-established redundancy terms for these workers’
STRIKING WORKERS at the Lagan Brick company in Kingscourt, County Cavan, took their protest to the company’s Belfast HQ last month after they were met at City Hall by the city’s Sinn Féin Mayor and councillors.
The workers have been fighting for their rights since their plant was shut down with just an hour’s notice a mere ten days before Christmas, on 15 December.
The 25 SIPTU members employed at the plant have been in dispute with the management of Lagan Brick over its failure to pay established redundancy terms.
The Lagan Group (which owns the White Mountain Quarry overlooking west Belfast and has plants in Kinnegad, County Westmeath, and County Louth) has refused to attend the Labour Court.
Greeting the workers in Belfast on 4 April, Sinn Féin activist Bobby Storey said:
“This is only the beginning of a strategy. As a party we take an all-Ireland approach to workers’ rights and we will show employers such as the Lagan Corporation that they can’t get away with abusing workers.”
At the City Hall reception hosted by Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile, Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Paul Maskey spoke of the links between Cavan and West Belfast through Hunger Striker Kieran Doherty, who was the TD for Cavan/Monaghan at the time of his death in 1981.
“When an injustice is inflicted on workers anywhere in the country we will stand by them and support them,” the Belfast MP said.
The West Belfast MP reminded his audience of the stand Sinn Féin took in support of the workers from Visteon when they occupied the Finaghy Road North plant after the company refused to pay their rightful redundancy and pledged Sinn Féin’s ongoing solidarity.
After their City Hall reception the workers made their way to the Lagan House HQ and staged a sit-in. Senior management refused to face the workers and called the PSNI. Eventually, a company representative agreed to accept a letter from the delegation led by SIPTU Industrial Organiser John Regan, who said:
“The company is running and hiding from us. This dispute has dragged on too long. The management of Lagan Brick should commit to meaningful engagement aimed at reaching a just conclusion to this dispute rather than merely paying lip-service to such a process.
“The owners of this company are among the richest people in Ireland and must accept their obligation to honour long-established redundancy terms for these workers.”
Sinn Féin Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin reiterated the party’s support for the workers:
“They were told at an hour’s notice, ten days before Christmas, that their jobs were gone and that the plant would close. There was no negotiation, no proper redundancy procedure and no redundancy payment beyond statutory redundancy.
“One of the 25 workers we’ve met has given 43 years’ service to the company. Every one of them has over 20 years’ service. They have maintained a 24-hour vigil at the plant since they were laid off on 15 December.
“The Lagan Brick workers have Sinn Féin’s full support.”