Armaghdown Creamery: Jobs threatened by scaling down at milk processing plant
A County Down milk processing plant is to move to seasonal production with a potential impact on more than 70 jobs.
Staff at the Armaghdown Creamery at Banbridge were told the news on Tuesday night.
Seventy two people are employed at the plant making butter and a form of milk powder.
The new work pattern, which takes effect from September, will see it only processing milk between spring and autumn.
The creamery was bought by Lakeland Dairies from Fane Valley in May.
Lakeland said a lack of investment in previous years had left it capable of only making products for which there was limited demand at certain times of the year.
A spokesman said the development would affect staff at Banbridge.
He said it would try to "implement the proposed temporary lay-offs and potential redundancies on a voluntary basis".
The company is also to explore potential redeployment.
Lakeland said other plants in the group also worked on a seasonal basis.
UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson claimed staff had been told their jobs were secure after the takeover.
She said the "rug had been pulled from underneath them".
"I have spoken directly with many of the employees who have been affected by this decision and it is very clear that not only has this been handled disgracefully, it will also result in almost immediate financial implications for staff and their families," she said.
Ms Dobson has asked Stormont ministers to intervene.
The SIPTU union also condemned the decision saying workers at the plant had been shocked by it.
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Martin O'Rourke, said: "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."