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'Jobs like these don't just waltz in easily': Huge blow to Nenagh as plant to close

The jobs have been described as the “life blood” of the economy in Nenagh.

Nenagh Source: Google Maps

THE CLOSURE OF a manufacturing plant in Nenagh, Co Tipperary has been described as a “huge blow” to the local community.

At a meeting today, beauty product manufacturer Coty told employees that they would be closing the plant between now and the end of 2018, ending the almost 50-year history of the company in the town.

Although it was promised that discussions would begin to see if some of those jobs could be transferred to the UK, where the plant’s operations will be moved, it’s very uncertain what will happen to any of the 200 workers affected.

Generational change

Denis Finnerty from the Nenagh Chamber of Commerce said on RTÉ’s News at One that the announcement would have a huge impact on the town and on families.

“The first impact is the human impact on those workers. I suppose in a town like Nenagh they’re not numbers to us, they’re our friends.

We grew up with them, our children, the second generation have grown up with them, they hurl together, they play sport together, they socialise together.

Speaking about the speculation prior to the announcement, Finnerty said “We’d feared the worst, but hoped for the best. Our worst fears were realised today”.

Labour’s Alan Kelly said that a few workers had been onto him to express their disappointment as they had worked hard to try and keep the plant open.

“This is a huge blow for the Nenagh area. The €14 million annual wage bill from employees has supported many families, along with local businesses and spin-off contract services and will be a major loss to Nenagh.”

90132863_90132863 Jackie Cahill.

Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill said something similar, calling the “well-paying jobs” the “life blood of the local economy for decades.”

He questioned the efforts made by the government, in particular jobs minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, questioning whether she had tried to intervene to keep jobs here.

“Last month, I raised the future of the [Coty] plant with the Minister via a PQ, and got a one line response saying that ‘ownership of this facility changed recently and IDA Ireland is working with the senior management of the new company in order assess potential future developments.’

“What happened in the four weeks between answering that PQ, and the decision today to close the factory?

Independent TD Mattie McGrath expressed concern about the role of ‘mergers’, which he described as “increasingly just vehicles through which employees can be discarded”.

He added that there was annoyance at the way in which staff were informed of the closure.

Many of them woke up to hear the rumours circulating on social media or on local or national radio. The staff deserved so much more than this. They should have been informed at every stage of the process that was underway.

A number of local councillors and TDs, including Mattie McGrath and Alan Kelly, are due to meet with the jobs minister this evening to discuss what will be done to find new jobs and investment for the area.

What’s next?

90407507_90407507 Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Alan Kelly says the next priority is to ensure that redundancies are handed out smoothly, and that the government looks to promote the site.

Finnerty agreed, saying that he hoped Coty would “honour their commitment to work closely with them and their families and ensure they’re treated fairly and with respect.”

There are hopes that the plant could be bought by another company and that similar operations would continue at the plant, with jobs minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor promising to “push” for new jobs in the area and to promote the site.

Alan Kelly said that a similar plant closure in Cashel was reopened after Johnson and Johnson’s operations were replaced by Amneal, so there is hope.

But Finnerty said that jobs like these don’t just “waltz” that easily into towns like Nenagh.

“I suppose it raises the bigger question of the sustainability question for those who live outside the eastern seaboard. We do really need a concerted effort in our national framework development to ensure that people who live outside the eastern seaboard have a reasonable economic future ahead of them.”

He said it won’t be easy for those who lost jobs to find employment.

Recently, the government launched a Rural Development Plan to try and stop the decline of populations, jobs and investments to rural towns and communities.

There’s been much skepticism whether the plan will work, however, with some local authority officials saying the real change that is needed is fast broadband to all areas of rural Ireland.

Read: 200 jobs affected as Coty plant in Nenagh to close

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