Job Losses Loom at Poultry Plant

NORTHERN IRELAND - Workers at the O'Kane poultry processing plant at Ballymena have been warned that about 140 jobs are to go.
calendar icon 19 November 2009
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O'Kane's is a leading poultry processor in Northern Ireland, according to the BBC, and about 140 jobs are expected to go at a poultry processing plant in Ballymena.

It is understood a series of meetings have been held with workers at the O'Kane's factory outlining the company's future plans. Workers were told these include provision for at least 140 redundancies. In order to prepare for the lay-offs, the workforce has been placed on a statutory 90-day protective notice period.

One of the explanations given to staff is that EU regulations coming into effect next May will mean chicken can no longer be sold as fresh produce after it has been defrosted.

BBC's Northern Ireland business reporter, Eddie O'Gorman, said the poultry business is well-known as an industry where profit margins are small.

He said: "O'Kane's face strong competition from big multinational producers elsewhere in the UK and overseas. Three years ago the company closed down a subsidiary company in Limerick, Castlemahon Foods, in order to concentrate production at its Ballymena plant."

Up to 1,500 people are employed by O'Kane's in Ballymena. The company was founded in 1932 by the late W.P. O'Kane and has remained in family ownership since. BBC reports that it operates two feed mills, three hatcheries and three processing plants.

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