Union officials have claimed that UK meat processor Foyle Food Group threatened to sack all staff at its Omagh Meats plant if industrial action at the site continued.

Workers at the facility started to strike on Friday (26 August) in a dispute over plans to restructure the site, which could lead to a third of the jobs at the plant being lost.

The industrial action is continuing and a spokesman for UNITE told just-food today that there had been a threat that all workers at the Omagh Meats facility would be made redundant as a consequence of the strike.

The spokesman said the company had yet to take action but added: “This threat has never been totally removed so there is still uncertainty for two thirds of the workforce.”

When contacted by just-food, Foyle Food Group and Omagh Meats declined to comment on the union’s claims.

Workers at Omagh Meats decided to embark on industrial action after talks with the company over changes at the site broke down. As well as the job cuts, the Unite spokesperson said the restructuring would lead to “increased workloads [and] later finishing times for some loss of hours and pay”.

The spokesperson said Foyle Food Group had decided to implement the changes anyway after the two sides failed to reach an agreement. He said there was “no time limit” on the industrial action and urged the company to resume talks through Northern Ireland’s Labour Relations Agency.

“We hope that the employers will re-engage in discussions and we can try and resolve the matters that caused the dispute in the first place,” the spokesperson said.

“What we want to is to try and strike a balance between the business and the needs of the actual employees and we believe that is possible if we have dialogue.”