Union leaders say strike action at the Ireland-based Kerry Group, in a dispute centred on the production of the firm’s Cheestrings product, has been suspended after the company agreed to new conciliation talks.

Workers at Kerry’s plants in Charleville, Co. Cork have held a series of 24-hour stoppages in a row over proposed changes to terms and conditions of employment.

However, the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) said the latest 24-hour walk-out, due to have taken place on 17 February, had been called off.

SIPTU organiser Terry Bryan said Kerry confirmed on 15 February it would join union representatives at a Labour Court hearing in a bid to resolve the dispute, centred on proposed changes to shift patterns and terms, job rotation and appointments. 

Bryan said Kerry had also agreed “to lift the notice of lay-off and protective notice that was issued to employees” earlier this month. 

Kerry could not be contacted for comment. However, a spokesperson told just-food on 26 January the company had introduced new work practices “across all departments on site” over the past year, with the exception of the area responsible for Cheestrings production. 

“We have grown our Cheestrings business and we require some change programme in order to introduce the service level we require, but despite our best efforts we have failed to get agreement in this department,” the spokersperson said.