The company which recently took over Maydown Precision Engineering have moved to reject claims by union officials over job losses and conditions at the Derry firm.
Dual protests were staged by workers and officials from the union Unite at both Derry and the Waterford headquarters of Schivo Ltd in Derry yesterday afternoon.
Unite members have issued a demand for Schivo Chief Executive Seamus Kilgallon to meet with them after 14 job losses were announced and claimed union officials were being targeted.
Unite members said they also wanted to discuss company’s responsibilities for the Maydown workforce under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment) legislation.
Speaking about the background to the dispute, Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Co-ordinating Officer for Northern Ireland, claimed:
“Maydown Precision Engineering management has failed to abide by the terms of our collective bargaining agreement by refusing to engage with Unite over the TUPE transfer of the workforce to Schivo.
“There are fears among the workforce that the 15 job losses announced so far may increase substantially into the future, a fear which has been exacerbated by the management’s attacks on Unite.
“Given his responsibility for the workforce under the TUPE legislation, I have written to the Chief Executive of Schivo requesting a meeting but, as yet, we have received no response.
“Today’s protests in Derry and Waterford have been organised by Unite to ensure management understand that our union is not going to roll over and allow the workforce to be decimated.
“These protest follow on from previous actions organised by the Derry Trades Council and community activists last Friday. Unless Schivo reverses course, Unite will be forced to step up our protests alongside our pursuit of legal redress and an industrial response”, Mr Thompson added.
Maydown Precision Engineering, which employs 133 people and supplies parts to major aircraft firms, was recently transferred to Schivo.
In response to Unite’s protests outside its facilities in Derry and Waterford, a spokesman for Schivo said: “We are very disappointed that the Unite trade union is targeting Schivo’s workforce with these negative, unwarranted protests.
“Schivo has not breached any agreement with the Unite trade union, despite the union’s repeated claims that we have. There was no such agreement in place between any union and the previously named Maydown Precision Engineering company that Schivo acquired.
“On many occasions Unite has been asked to provide evidence of this agreement. The union has failed to do so.
“Schivo was established in 2007 in Waterford and started with 60 employees. We now employee 210 people at our Waterford headquarters and our Leicester facility in the UK.
“As part of ongoing expansion plans, Schivo acquired MPE after it effectively went out of business in July of this year. At that point in time the company employed 133 people. As must be obvious when a failing company is saved, a level of restructuring is required.
“To that end Schivo announced two weeks ago that it would be making 14 staff at the Derry facility redundant. This process is being carried out in line with all appropriate legislative guidelines and we sympathise with those affected.
“But rather than celebrate the saving of 119 jobs, Unite prefers to obstruct Schivo’s attempts to turn around the facility in Derry and attempt to bully us into adhering to their agenda with these protests in Derry and Waterford. They will not succeed.”
The spokesperson added: “Schivo will continue to communicate directly with our workforce about plans to grow the company. We will also concentrate on meeting the needs of our customers. This is the best way to continue the impressive legacy of aerospace manufacturing in Derry and ensure a vibrant future for the facility.”