25 September 2008

Nearly 500 Jobs will be lost in Cork

Today the large international company Tyco Safety Products announced the closure of its factory in Cork with a loss of 320 jobs over the next twelve months.

The manufacturing division at its site in Bishopstown, an area in the western part of Cork city, will be moved to another country, where wages are lower than in Ireland.

The factory, which produces - amongst other things - fire detection devices and security tagging items for shops, was set up in the early 1980s under the name Sensormatic.

Before a meeting this morning, workers knew that the company planned a reduction of personnel, so job losses were expected. But they were not sure of how many. Only yesterday there had been talk of about 200 redundancies. So today's announcement came as a shock to many employees, who will find it difficult to get a similar job in Cork in the current economical recession.

Tyco says it will provide severance packages and outplacement services for all 320 workers being laid off. It will retain only a skeleton staff of 20 in its shared services centre, which will remain in Cork for the time being.

The company acknowledged that great efforts had been made by employees in Cork to lower operating costs, but it was not enough and manufacturing operations were being moved abroad now. Until recently, the Cork branch of this very large and prosperous international business was highly profitable and it is not clear what caused the sudden change. Union representatives said that there was nothing wrong in Bishops town and work was done as usual. But they think that the low-wage economies in Asia are luring more and more companies away, in particular multi-national US giants like Tyco, who have no roots here and no cultural links with Ireland.

Other branches of the international Tyco conglomerate which operate in Ireland are so far not affected by the closure of the Cork operation.

Earlier this week it emerged that another 150 jobs in Cork are at risk, as the manufacturing company Swissco also plans a scaling down of its operations. Should this information turn out to be correct as well, it would mean a loss of nearly 500 jobs in Ireland's second-largest city. Hard times lie ahead for those affected, their families and the local economy in general.

Once again it is evident that the long-standing policy of the IDA and the Irish government to attract foreign - and especially American - companies to Ireland by giving them favourable conditions and generous tax exemptions does not work on the long run. These companies take the benefits, but when they run out or the companies have better offers elsewhere, they pack up and leave Ireland again.

It would be far more sensible, and a lot cheaper for the Irish taxpayer, if special funding and support would be offered more to Irish businesses, and in particular to small and medium-size companies. It would also be good to encourage more local people to start their own business with financial help and tax relief. This would create new jobs, uplift the spirits in Irish communities, and on the long run provide the government also with more taxes. For the country as a whole it would mean stability and an increase in skills and entrepreneurship.

Sadly the few programmes that exist in support of Irish businesses are underfunded, badly managed and administered, and often influenced by party politics and favouritism towards friends of those in charge. If we want to get out of the current recession, changes in the government's business and enterprise policy are needed, and needed fast.

The Emerald Islander

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