SIPTU has condemned a decision by Lakeland Dairies to move towards seasonal operations at its production plant in Banbridge, County Down, which will result in up to 60 job losses. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Martin O’Rourke, said: “The workers were shocked when they learned of the company’s decision to cease full operations at the plant in September. Lakelands Dairies only purchased the site in May of this year from the Fane Valley Group. Following this SIPTU representatives met with the company and it was agreed that management and workers would engage in drawing up a plan for the plant. “Our members were aware that there would be changes, some of which would be difficult.  However, we were shocked to be informed on Tuesday (16th August) that the company intended to move towards seasonal operation of the plant. This will result in a large number of redundancies and only six months work a year for the vast majority of the remaining staff. The workers were extremely angered and disappointed that the media was informed of these plans before their SIPTU representatives had an opportunity to meet with the company to question them.” O’Rourke added: “The announcement has come while many of our members at the plant are currently on holiday or preparing their children for their return to school. Initially, the company planned to immediately lay off the vast majority of the workforce. However, following the intervention of SIPTU representatives, the management has now agreed not to implement its plan until after a 28-day consultation period.  “During this period, SIPTU representatives will work proactively with the company to ensure that those members who opt to move towards seasonal work, and who are not facing compulsory redundancy, have their terms and conditions of employment protected.”