SIPTU members at the SK biotek, the pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Swords, County Dublin, commenced a 24-hour, seven days a week, picket (Thursday, 14th November) outside the plant in response to a lockout by management. SIPTU Organiser, Jim Fuery, said: “The company has reaffirmed its position that the workers have been placed on protective notice and in effect are locked out of their workplace. In response to this lockout, which began on Monday, our members are conducting a 24-hour, seven days a week picket outside the plant. “This is completely unacceptable behaviour by management. Our members’ dispute with the company relates to its failure to respect the terms of a collective agreement.  “This collective agreement was part of a ‘protection of employees’ on a transfer of undertakings (TUPE) agreement which was concluded when the plant was brought under new management in December 2017. This agreement guaranteed our members’ terms and conditions until 2022.” He added: “This is a major industrial relations issue and as such was raised by Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly and Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O'Brien in the Dáil yesterday.” SK biotek worker and SIPTU National Executive Council (NEC) member, Brian Keating, said: “I have worked at this plant for more than 40 years and the average length of service is more than 20 years. To lockout such a workforce which has provided such loyal long-term service is a disgrace. “We have been heartened by the level of political and community support we have received since this lockout began. The lockout was also a focus of discussions at the SIPTU NEC meeting today in Liberty Hall with all committed to bringing the full resources of the union to bear in bringing this dispute to a fair conclusion.” He added: “We are calling on the company to immediately end the lockout and allow us to return to work. Management must also engage with SIPTU and other union representatives to resolve the ongoing dispute.” There are 87 SIPTU members employed in the pharmaceutical ingredients plant in Swords.