30/07/2003

Pay dispute talks begin at Shorts

Talks began today aimed at resolving the long running pay dispute between Shorts management and the firm's workers.

Around 1,000 jobs have been under threat at the company's Belfast base after the employees rejected a proposed four-year pay agreement.

This was on top of a further 580 redundancies in response to what the company called "very challenging market conditions".

Welcoming the meeting, management said that given "the current challenging market conditions" today's talks were a "fresh opportunity" to resolve the current impasse.

The statement said: "There is a desire by all parties to resolve the current impasse, and we are hopeful that a way forward can be found, which protects the company’s competitiveness and, therefore, jobs in the longer term.

"It is essential that the company is in the best position possible to retain contracts with its customers who are demanding very competitive, long-term price commitments."

However, a union spokesperson for the company's workers said staff were still "extremely angry" at the situation given that they had continued to meet deadlines, schedules and targets even though the threat of redundancies had been hanging over people's heads.

(MB)

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