Dairy farmers in Ireland have voted to strike, saying they have not been paid for the past two years, despite having been given their due.
Key points:Dairy farmers in the Republic of Ireland are voting on a new contract in a bid to keep their businesses openThe union has argued the new contract was fair and that they will not be paid for monthsThe union says the new agreement will keep the businesses open for another four yearsThe Irish Farmers’ Union said the contract was unfair and the farmers should be paid their dues.
The union said the agreement was fair, said it would keep the dairy farmers open for four years and give them a “fair” pay rise.
Dairy Farmers Association of Ireland general secretary Paul McGuinness said he was “not happy” with the deal.
He said the farmers in his area of South Armagh in County Armagh voted to join a strike.
He told the National Assembly: “I would like to thank the members of the DFAI for their hard work, commitment and determination to ensure that we are given fair terms.”
However, I am disappointed that we have had to go to a strike and I would like the members to consider the impact that this strike would have on their jobs and the people that depend on them.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to all those in the dairy industry that have supported us throughout this process.”
The Irish Independent understands the farmers’ strike is not in the interests of Irish producers and there has been no announcement from the DFFI on how the strike will be resolved.
Mr McGuinness described the strike as a “wake-up call”.
“I believe this strike is a wake-up for all dairy farmers,” he said.
“The agreement between the DFOI and the dairy unions in 2017 is an unfair and inequitable deal for the Irish farmers and that we will continue to fight for.”
Dairy unions are taking the view that they can’t do their jobs because of the amount of money that they get from the taxpayer, but I think the dairy sector has made it abundantly clear that they are not the ones to pay the price.
“As a union we have a duty to protect the interests and the livelihoods of all farmers.”
The agreement was struck after a dispute over pay.
The DFAU said it will negotiate with the Irish Government to reach a fair deal and that it has no intention of going ahead with a strike, but the union says it will continue “to demand the fair deal that we all deserve”.
“We will keep on demanding it, regardless of what the DFLA has agreed with the Government,” Mr McGuinness added.DFAI spokesman Jim O’Connor said the dispute over payments “has nothing to do with the milk industry and everything to do entirely with the politics of the Government”.
“The deal has nothing to with any issue of pay or the industry, and we have made it clear to the DFI and the Irish Farmers that we won’t be participating in any negotiation that involves any sort of deal that is in the best interests of the Irish economy,” he added.
The Department of Finance says the deal will save the Government more than €2bn in tax revenue and will save dairy farmers more than 4,000 jobs.
It also says the agreement will protect the dairy producers and ensure that the industry remains open for “as long as necessary” in order to avoid “undue hardship”.
It said it has agreed “to continue to negotiate with each side until an agreed outcome is reached”.
The Department said that “the DFAF has the authority to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement for the dairy farming sector”.