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Foster seeks ‘urgent meeting’ after loss of 50 jobs as creamery closes

April 9, 2014 9:20 pm
Arlene Foster

DOOMED MEETING… Minister Arlene Foster has called for an urgent meeting

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has revealed that her department has been in talks with the owners of Fivemiletown Creamery over the past two years as their financial troubles deepened.

And as news broke that the plant is to close with the loss of fifty jobs the Roslea-born Minister said she was seeking urgent talks with the the Glabia Ingredidents Ireland, the group which will now take onr Fivemiletown’s suppliers.

The die was cast at a meeting last week of shareholders to consider proposals put to them by the new owners, Glanbia.

In a statement issued afterwards, they said they voted overwhelmingly (83%) in favour of forming a long-term relationship with Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GIIL).

It went on: “The agreement, which is subject to the signing of legal documents, involves suppliers of Fivemiletown Creamery entering into a long-term milk supply agreement with GIIL.

“The Fivemiletown milk pool of 25m litres/annum will be supplied to GIIL, and Fivemiletown suppliers will receive an advisory service from GIIL.

“As part of the agreement, GIIL will acquire the Fivemiletown cheese brands, except for Boilie goat’s cheese which will remain with Fivemiletown.”

Local MLA Maurice Morrow articulated many of the vews of employees, suppliers, customers and locals.

He went on: “I am deeply saddened at this turn of events. The 50 loyal employees include a number of master-cheese makers who have created unique products which put Fivemiletown Creamery on a strong trading footing.”

Mr Morrow said the closure, and that of Augher Creamery was a significant double hit on a rural community.

The news also came as a shock to Fivemiletown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It is due to meet on Tuesday of next week, 15th April in the Valley Hotel (at 8pm) to discuss the closure.

Michael Callaghan, the chamber’s project coordinator, said he did not know, at this stage, what that meeting would achieve.

“I don’t know what decision they will come to, but it’s important that we meet and show solidarity with the employees.”

Meanwhile, the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster, revealed that Invest Northern Ireland had maintained regular contact with Fivemiletown Creamery over the past two years following trading difficulties.

She commented: “Together with Invest Northern Ireland, I am now seeking an urgent meeting with GIIL to discuss securing the best possible outcome.”

‘Fivemiletown’ will retain ownership of the cheese manufacturing site, and GIIL will form an alliance with them in relation to its retail store, Ballylurgan Hardware. It is currently profitable.

The management and board of ‘Fivemiletown’ will now enter into consultations with the employees regarding the future of the cheese factory.

The board of directors, in a statement, said they regretted the loss of jobs.”

The creamery has existed on the current site for the past 116 years.

Fears for 50 jobs as Fivemiletown creamery enters negotiations with Kilkenny firm

March 31, 2014 12:19 pm

Fivemiletown-cheese-460x305

ONE of Ireland’s leading dairy companies has confirmed that it is in negotiations to form what it describes as a “long-term relationship” with Fivemiletown Creamery.

The Kilkenny-based Glanbia Ingredients Ireland Ltd (GIIL) has said that both it and Fivemiletown shareholders “see considerable value” in establishing a long-term arrangement between them.

A statement from the company came as concerns were raised about the future of 50 jobs at the plant if Glanbia become involved. Further talks are set to take place this week. Farmers who are suppliers of the Fivemiletown and Brookeborough Diary Co-operative met recently in the Valley Hotel to discuss concerns over the future of creamery. Staff were also called to a meeting to update them on the developments.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Glanbia told our sister paper, TyroneHerald, that an agreement between the companies would result in Fivemiletown entering into consultations with its employees regarding the future of its cheese facility.

“Fivemiletown will also enter into a long-term milk supply agreement with GIIL, who will perform milk collection and testing on behalf of Fivemiletown as well as providing an advisory service to its suppliers.

“As part of the transaction, GIIL will have an exclusive licence over the retail cheese brands except for Boilie which will remain with Fivemiletown.

“Fivemiletown’s successful hardware and agricultural inputs business will develop an alliance with Glanbia PLC’s Agribusiness division.

“This strategic alliance is subject to the approval of Fivemiletown shareholders and the board of GIIL. Both parties see considerable value in establishing a long-term, mutually beneficial alliance.”

‘DIFFICULT TRADING CONDITIONS’

For its part, Fivemiletown Creamery said that they had experienced difficult trading conditions, particularly in its core cheddar cheese business.

A spokesperson explained, “This has significantly impacted on the financial viability of the business.

“The board of Fivemiletown is currently in discussion with its shareholders and staff.”

The issue has also been highlighted by SDLP West Tyrone MLA, Joe Byrne. He said any loss of Fivemiletown Creamery would be a “huge loss” to the area.

“I can only hope that any new owners would reflect on the incredible products that the creamery produces and the very positive contribution to the local economy and think twice about any plans to close the creamery.

‘Jobs boost from fracking could jump-start the economy’

February 8, 2014 8:00 pm
fracking

According to Shale Gas Europe fracking is safe for human health and for the environment

‘Fracking is safe for the environment and safe for our health’ – That’s the view of the European Resource Centre for fracking, Shale Gas Europe.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald spokesman Marcus Pepperell outlined the benefits of fracking to the people of Fermanagh and stated that it is not threat it is being perceived as.

Opponents of fracking say it is not safe and will pollute the water supply in the county? Is this true?

No it is not true. Shale gas exploration is safe for human health and for the environment.  Risks exist with all energy sources but these will be managed, controlled and carefully monitored.

The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering published a joint report in June 2012 which concluded that the health, safety and environmental risks of shale gas and hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) can be managed effectively.

In January 2014, The UK’s Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management also published their independent report on shale gas and water.

This report states that “contamination of aquifers from mobilisation of solutes and methane is unlikely where shale plays exist at depth in the UK.

While hydraulic fracturing has been used for over 60 years, technology has evolved significantly in the last twenty years and there have been no confirmed instances of direct contamination from this process.
This is because the fracturing takes place hundreds of meters below the water table.

Is there enough evidence to support claims that the environment here will suffer due to fracking?

There is currently a moratorium in place in Northern Ireland, voted through by the Assembly in December 2011.
If this should be lifted then the impact on any landscape where shale gas is evident will be minimal as there are already a host of regulations in place to manage the exploration and drilling of shale gas in the UK.

The Government’s full regulatory framework seeks to deliver best practice, promoting the safe, responsible and environmentally sound recovery of the UK’s unconventional reserves of gas and oil.

Could we be at risk from earthquakes due to drilling affecting fault lines?

While hydraulic fracturing can be responsible for seismic activity, the Royal Society points out that ‘seismic risks are low… Seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing is likely to be of smaller magnitude than the UK’s largest natural seismic events and those induced by coal mining.’

Durham University has recorded three associated earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing globally, from hundreds of thousands of jobs that have already been undertaken world-wide.

Even so, as a mitigation method, the UK has a ‘traffic light’ system which will monitor seismic activity, feeding back information in real-time during hydraulic fracturing; this data will allow drilling companies to adjust the injection volume and rate during the fracturing procedure to prevent noticeable seismic activity.

What tangible benefits will fracking bring to Fermanagh if implemented?

The benefits could be financial, economic, and environmental. Financially,  2013 Institute of Directors study predicts that, should current exploration prove to be successful, investment in unconventional gas in the UK alone could peak at £3.7 billion a year.

On the economic benefits, the EU is dependent upon 67% of its natural gas (2011) and this is expected to rise.
There are estimates about the likely employment benefits that could be associated with a domestic shale gas industry. The IoD report stated that it could support 74,000 jobs in the UK.

In October 2013, Pöyry, a consultancy and engineering company, stated that the figure for total jobs in the UK could reach 100,000.

There could also be environmental benefits: the European Union has also recognised that shale gas could be a possible bridging fuel as a substitute for more polluting fossil fuels, helping to contribute to its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In short why is Fracking good for Fermanagh?

Energy matters. It sustains and maintains our communities, our industries, our homes, schools and hospitals.
The UK and Northern Ireland governments have recognised that shale gas could represent a huge economic opportunity and as demand for more affordable, cleaner energy continues to drive the need for more supply, shale gas may provide the potential means to meet this ever growing energy requirement in a commercially viable and environmentally responsible way.

Therefore, any risk must be managed with the development and implementation of an effective and transparent regulation and enforcement process.

Elliott challenges Minister on ‘failure’ of Forest jobs promise

February 7, 2014 3:00 pm
Inishkeen House Enniskillen

FALLING SHORT…It seems that the 100 jobs to be relocated to Inishkeen House in Enniskillen are not going to materialise

FERMANAGH MLA Tom Elliott has hit out at the ‘failure’ of the Agriculture Department to relocate all Forest Service staff to Fermanagh after it was revealed the number of jobs under consideration has been scaled down by almost half.

The UUP man claimed the proposals to decentralise the Forest Service, which were announced in May 2012, were a “red herring” saying that the agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill has to “deliver what she promised”.

Approximately 100 staff are currently employed at the Headquarters in Dundonald House in east Belfast while a number of Forest Service employees are based at Inishkeen House in Enniskillen.

However, following a question tabled at the Northern Ireland Assembly, it was announced that 60 posts were now in line to be relocated.

Ms O’Neill is facing criticism from Mr Elliott who called on the minister to explain why the number of posts have been reduced.

“I was there in Balmoral when they made the announcement, which I very much welcomed because I have been lobbying this for a while,” he said.

“Fermanagh is an obvious choice for an agency of that size but it sounds as if the plans have gone off the rails. “It’s very unfortunate and disappointing as it would have been a boost for Fermanagh but now it seems as if it’s going to be a red herring.

“There’s obviously a huge gap in the system and it’s very unfortunate this has happened. There has been a break down in communication in the department and the minister hasn’t been able to deliver.

“It seems to be a failure by the department.

“I do think the minister needs to explain why it’s so significantly reduced and get back on track to where she planned to be. She has a responsibility to deliver what she promised.”

Last month around 60 employees were handed a detailed questionnaire which, when completed, will confirm the number of staff who agree to work in the relocated headquarters.

If any employee states that they want to relocate, then the vacated post will be offered to other civil service staff with the roles thought to be filled by local workers.

A spokesman for the Agriculture Department said: “No member of staff is at risk of losing their job. The Department will work with staff who do not wish to relocate with their post to find them another suitable post either in DARD or across the NICS (Northern Ireland Civil Service).

“Any post vacated by a member of staff not wishing to relocate to Fermanagh will be offered to other NICS staff – we expect that the staff who will apply to fill such vacancies will be mainly from Fermanagh and the surrounding areas.”
It is expected that the relocation should take place by June 2015 while the options for accommodating staff is under review.

Forests cover around 15 per cent of the county and Fermanagh has approximately one quarter of all forestry land in the North.

It’s better news on the local jobs front

January 31, 2014 12:00 pm
The Roulston's Centra Ballinamallard

HIRING… Roulston’s Centra, Ballinamallard

THERE was heartening news on the jobs’ front for Fermanagh last week, with the county’s benefits claimant figure down for the previous 12 months, and local employers on the look-out for staff.

One employer, while conceding that, ‘locally it is slow enough’, said other factors had to be taken into account.

“It’s a difficult time of the year. January is always a depressing month but, hopefully, we would all want to look forward to the future. I myself would anticipate that things will get better.”

As of last month (December), there were a total of 1,877 people in Fermanagh claiming benefits, or 4.8 per cent of the working population.

The figure is down by 35 on November and 92 for the year. It compares favourably with the claimant figure of 5 per cent across the North.

The Fermanagh claimant figure comprises 1,307 males and 570 women.

However, last week’s jobs’ adverts give some comfort.

Tempo-based electrical contractors, GR White & Son  are on the look out for qualified and apprentice electricians, and skilled labourers.

And, Belleek Pottery is seeking tour guides and restaurant staff at its Visitor Centre on 3-6 month contracts.

Its manager, Patricia McCauley, returned this week from manning a stand at Holidayworld in the RDS in Dublin. She reported ‘plenty of interest’.

“It was a good showcase for Fermanagh.”

Turning to the jobs being sought, she said the company was looking for five or six people.

“It’s over the summer holiday period, for six months from March or April. That’s when we get the biggest influx of visitors, from Easter on.

“It’s the coach tours season. We get a lot of Americans, Canadians and Australians, the likes of CIE, Trafalgar, Globus, and Tauck Tours. The six months (contract) suits some people who don’t want a full-time job, and there’s always opportunities for them to be re-employed the following year.”

And, the owners of Roulston’s Centra stores, at Ballinamallard and Trory, will shortly  be investing £150,000 in their Trory outlet. To that end, they are seeking full-time and part-time staff.

Stewart Roulston explained that the store would be undergoing a revamp, principally at the hot food and deli end.

“That’s why we’re advertising for so that by the time we get them trained, we will have revamped.

“Trory has always been a busy location. It’s on a good arterial route.”

And, things are looking up for small firms, like Keysscape Gardening, Enniskillen.

It is on the look-put for one full-time, and one part-time gardener.

Its owner, David Keys explained that most of their work is private work, landscaping, mowing, hedge cutting, power washing and tree felling.

“At the moment, we have three full-timers and it’s really about upskilling the workforce. We’re in the process of getting more work and it’s always god to have lots of people on call if a contract comes through.”

MP in bid to save local tax office jobs

January 16, 2014 4:00 pm

The Revenue and Customs offices in Enniskillen
LOCAL Westminster MP, Michelle Gildernew is due to meet with a British government minister today to present the case against plans by the Inland Revenue to take 24 jobs out of Enniskillen.

A total of 240 jobs are eligible for redundancy as part of a centralisation plan by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

David Gauke, who is the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, will also be facing up to her fellow Westminster MPs, Conor Murphy and Mark Durkan and Margaret Ritchie, MLA.

A total of 24 Inland Revenue jobs could disappear in Enniskillen as part of a planned HMRC reorganisation.

It has already announced a voluntary redundancy scheme affecting staff in four of its offices in the North, including Enniskillen.

A spokesman for HMRC said the increased number of online customers had reduced the need for ‘physical’ sites.

“This change has seen the nature of our work shift away from the mass processing work of the past to the more specialist, but less labour-intensive, roles required in effective policing of the tax system.
“As a result, some areas of our work do not require as many staff,” he said.
Barney Lawn, the local spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said staff were left ‘dismayed’ at the news.
He told the Herald: “The only explanation given to staff was centralisation of work, and that the office did not fit with the department’s medium or long term plans.
“But, the department’s rationale is totally skewed. We are actually under-staffed, not the other way round, and the argument is sustained by the over-time still available for staff.”
Asked whether he thought the jobs could be saved, Mr Lawn was upbeat.
“We fought this in 2006 and were successful, and we hope we can repeat that success.

Latest:16 Jobs to go at Musgrave Martketplace Enniskillen

January 9, 2014 4:53 pm
Musgrave-Marketplace-launch-in-Enniskillen-copy

HAPPIER DAYS… Former Miss Nortern Ireland Judith Grey pictured at the opening of the Enniskillen branch of Musgrave Marketplace back in March 2012

ENNISKILLEN employment  has been  another blow with the announcement today (Thursday) that Mugrave Marketplace, located at the Killyhevlin Industrial Estate, will close its doors at the end of February.

A spokesman for Musgrave Marketplace confirmed the closure in Enniskillen and the loss of 16 jobs.

“Musgrave Wholesale Partners today announced the consolidation of its MarketPlace brand in Northern Ireland. This has included an investment in a warehouse management system with Voicepick technology in its Marketplace Duncrue site in Belfast.  The company will now transfer its delivered operation from its Enniskillen and Lurgan Cash and Carry outlets to its site in MarketPlace Duncrue.

“Musgrave Wholesale Partners believes that consolidating its network will provide customers with a wider range of products and a much more effective and efficient delivery service, operated from its state-of-the-art Belfast Duncrue site.

“Regrettably, this means the Enniskillen site will close at the end of February resulting in 16 job losses, with a further one hopefully redeployed in a similar role within the business.  The Lurgan outlet will remain open for a Customer Collect service only which will regrettably result in seven job losses, with a further five hopefully redeployed in a similar role within the business.

“Musgrave Wholesale Partners is doing everything it can to minimise the impact of this closure and it will also be putting in place an extensive outplacement support programme for all impacted employees, as they seek alternative employment.”

 

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December 18, 2013 2:38 pm

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Up to 300 apply for 30 Christmas jobs at Asda

November 29, 2013 5:30 pm
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Asda has seen a massive demand for 30 Christmas jobs

IT seems that the lure of temporary festive work in the major stores has resulted in lots of applicants having to be turned away.

Peter Beckett, the manager of the Asda store in Enniskillen told the Herald that between 200-300 people had applied for the 30 temporary jobs available.

A spokesman for Dunnes Stores in Enniskillen said it had already taken on 11 people, mostly on temporary contracts, to cope with the expected upsurge demand in the run-up to and over the Christmas period.

The store manager, Conor Byrne explained that the extra staff were currently spread over all three departments, grocery, fashions and the Timepiece Restaurant.

“It will depend on business after Christmas if they will stay on”, he added.

And, at Marks and Spencer in Erneside Shopping Centre, some 15 temporary staff have been taken on.

Its spokesman said she expected them to be there until the start of January.

“The 15 include people we have called back from last year.”

Peter Beckett of Asda said he expected to hold on to some of the 30 extra staff in the New Year.

“It depends on trade but, at the moment, we are finding that the cross-border trade is on the up. Beers, wines and spirits are more expensive this year down south and that’s driving some extra business.

“And we are also finding that the euro is stronger this year than last year, which means southern shoppers get a better deal.”

Up to 24 jobs could go at local tax office

3:30 pm
The Revenue and Customs offices in Enniskillen

JOBS THREAT…The Revenue and Customs offices in Enniskillen

A TOTAL of 24 jobs could go at the  HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office in Enniskillen, and it is feared that a reorganisation of the agency could see the office here close altogether.

HMRC has announced a voluntary redundancy scheme affecting staff in four of its offices in the North, including Enniskillen with a total of 240 jobs eligible for redundancy.

The HMRC spokesman said the increased number of online customers has reduced the need for physical sites.

“This change has seen the nature of our work shift away from the mass processing work of the past to the more specialist, but less labour-intensive, roles required in effective policing of the tax system. As a result some areas of our work do not require as many staff,” he said.

Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew, pictured, is to travel to Westminster to press the British government to reconsider the shake-up at HMRC.

Barney Lawn, spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) told the Herald how staff were left ‘dismayed’ and in a ‘state of shock’ after they heard the news.

“The only explanation given to staff was centralisation of work and that the office did not fit with the department’s medium or long term plans.

“The department are saying they have to lose 11,000 jobs nationally across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales by 2015, but we argue that the department’s rationale is totally skewed. Job losses and office closures hurt the economy and are a long term disaster in waiting – the loss of expertise will never be recovered. We are actually under-staffed not the other way round and the argument is sustained by the over-time still available for staff.

“The areas targeted are economically depressed areas where there is little chance of re-employment and it is contrary to what the Northern Ireland Assembly are doing with the decentralisation of the Civil Service. Here we have a Whitehall department acting contrary to the Executive,” he added.

And Mr Lawn said the union would rise to the challenge to save jobs in Enniskillen.

“PCS will robustly argue for the retention of the offices and jobs. It is not the jobs that are going, they’re transferring the work centrally. We are currently lobbying the MPs and MLAs and will continue this to pressure the department to rethink its strategy.”

Asked whether he thought the jobs could be saved, Mr Lawn was upbeat.

“We fought this in 2006 and were successful and we hope we can repeat that success.

“They were going to close similar offices in areas, Enniskillen included back then and we fought to retain it so we’re back in the same ball game again and we will fight again.”

UUP MLA Tom Elliott feared for the future of the office in Enniskillen

“This is a major concern, particularly in the west of the province whereby this would leave a huge gap in HMRC front line customer service provision.

“There appears to be a gradual removal of public sector services away from Fermanagh – This would be a double blow to the area, the loss of jobs and loss of front line customer services.”