Concerned workers demonstrating outside Smurfit Kappa on Monday evening. Photos: Seamus Farrelly

Kells print plant staff concerns after ownership change

A demonstration by concerned workers took place outside the Smurfit Kappa News Press in Kells on Monday evening following the recent announcement that News UK & Ireland Ltd is to acquire full ownership of the Smurfit Kappa News Press (SKNP) print business.

The Sinn Féin TD for Meath East, Darren O'Rourke, called on News Corp UK and Ireland to honour all existing agreements governing employment practices at the Smurfit Kappa News Press in Kells if the proposed bid by KIP Ltd to acquire the company is successful. It is currently subject to regulatory authority approval. KIP Ltd is an indirect wholly-owned incorporated subsidiary of News Corp UK and Ireland, the TD stated.

Deputy O'Rourke said: "Workers at Smurfit Kappa News Press in Kells are very concerned that their terms and conditions of employment, including redundancy entitlements, will be hollowed out as part of this proposed acquisition. This would be completely unacceptable. These terms and conditions have been arduously negotiated and agreed over recent years. They must be maintained.

"News Corp UK and Ireland must now commit to the continuation of all current agreements governing employment practices at the Kells plant. They should do that immediately. Anything less will only serve to confirm the suspicions of workers that this acquisition is a strategic one and will be used to avoid existing commitments.

Darren O'Rourke continued: "Many of the workers have decades of loyal service to Smurfit, which is a successful and profitable company. They are understandably concerned at the proposed transaction. I relayed those concerns to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, in the Dáil last month. The Minister should now seek these same commitments from News UK and Ireland as I have.”

News UK & Ireland already owns the Kells site, which is leased to SKNP as part of a long term printing agreement. The site prints a number of national publications including The Sun, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The i and The FT.

A spokesperson for News UK & Ireland Ltd said last month: "We have enjoyed a successful relationship with Smurfit Kappa for over 20 years and, with the current print contract entering its final phase, this agreement provides the opportunity for News UK & Ireland to secure its longer term printing arrangements and route to market in Ireland."

The spokesperson for News UK and Ireland has been contacted for comment.

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