Shocked workers at Spicer's Bakery in Navan are facing the dole queue this week, as uncertainty clouds the future of the 178 year-old company.
Up to 20 workers at the historic Navan bakery were told last Thursday there was no further work for them, but a core staff of 20 were being kept on to service contracts to supermarket chains.
John Dunne of SIPTU said some of the workers were told they were being laid off pending further work, while others were told they were being made redundant.
"It is still unclear how many are being made redundant," he said.
It is believed that between 15 and 20 people have been told they were either being laid off or made redundant. A further 20 are believed to still be working in the bakery, producing bread for Aldi.
Mr Dunne said the union had written to the company seeking a meeting but had difficulty contacting them. He said that there had been no 30-day consultation process with the workers who had not got their minimum notice entitlements.
"It looks like another Vita Cortex case of people just being dumped on the side of the road," he added. "This is not the way to treat people. We have been in touch with the Labour Relations Commission on this matter," he said.
The SIPTU official said he will be meeting with workers at the bakery on Thursday.
One of the workers involved said that some were told last Wednesday and some on Thursday that they would finishing in two days' time.
"We were told that they were going to keep on 20 people to bake exclusively for Aldi. None of us have been paid redundancy and none of us have received minimum notice payments and there are people who are owed holiday money, but the business is still trading as far as we know," he said.
The Mayor of Navan, Cllr Anton McCabe, said it was devastating news for the workers, who were told that their jobs were gone.
He met with some of the workers this week and said: "They are in shock. They feel that the way they heard the news was very sudden and the they have not digested it yet.
"Spicers have been employing people in Navan for years, their staff were always loyal to the company and feel that they were treated very badly by management."
Deputy Peadar Tóibín met with workers on Monday and called on the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to act to support these jobs.
"We met with the staff of the business and I hope to meet with management. Twenty-seven jobs have already been lost in the last few days and the remaining jobs are hanging on by a shoestring. I am calling on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to intervene to help analyse cost-reducing measures and ensure that this business is supported to safeguard jobs.
"Spicer's Bakery has been a mainstay of the Navan and Meath since it opened its first flour mill in 1834 and first bakery in 1880. Today, the bakery industry faces substantial pressure due to the crushing of domestic demand, lack of credit, increased unemployment and the evaporation of disposable income," he added.
"Since its establishment, Spicer's has provided jobs and delivered a service to the people of Meath. It is a both a local producer and employer. It is a central part of the heritage of the town and county. It represents the type of industry that is bearing the brunt of the failed policies of this government. It is the type of indigenous industry that should be the priority for support," the Sinn Fein TD said.
Cllr Joe Reilly called on the Department of Social Protection to meet with all workers to advise them of their rights as many of them have never been on the dole and some have been working for the company for over 30 years.
Cllr Tommy Reilly, who in worked for Spicer's for more than 30 years, said he was very disappointed at the news.
He recalled when he worked there, there was a staff of over 300 with bakeries in Kells, Navan, Trim and Balbriggan as well as a mill.
There was no response from management of the bakery yesterday (Tuesday).
The Spicer family were operating a flour mill in Navan as far back as 1834 and, in 1899, bought a bakery on the Boyne Road, the site of the current Navan bakery, from Luke Smith.
Following that, the firm established bakeries in Kells, Trim and Balbriggan. It also operated three other mills in Navan and, at one time, owned the Boyne Canal between Navan and Drogheda, which it used for shipping grain.