Some 300 workers at the Jacobs Biscuits plant in Dublin have voted in favour of a survival plan that will mean significant changes in work practices after an ultimatum from management, writes Hugh Oram.

The three unions at the plant – Siptu, the ATGWU and the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers – had urged the Jacob’s workers to accept the changes recommended by unions, after lengthy negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission. But in the face of advice from their unions, the workers had turned down the proposals.

Management of the plant then said the factory would close within the next few weeks, with the loss of all jobs. Michael Carey, chief executive of the Jacob Fruitfield group, said the workers’ decision meant the company could no longer manufacture or distribute products from the factory.

Redundancy for all workers was a prospect that brought intense discussions between man-agement and unions. Govern-ment ministers also intervened.

The plan was put to the ballot again on March 3 and accepted by 202 votes to 36. Mr Carey said that the work practice changes to be implemented would ensure that biscuit manufacturing continues at the plant and that there is every hope the business can grow. “I would like to publicly thank the employees for the way in which they have reached this decision,” he added.

Jacobs is the only biscuit manufacturing plant in Ireland and has about 35% of the Irish biscuit market. It was bought from Danone by Jacob Fruit-field in August, 2004.