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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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'We knew things were coming down the line': Speculation was rife over job losses in Cork

The Novartis job losses came one day after Shannon-based Molex announced 500 job cuts.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

MORE THAN 800 job losses have been announced for the South West region of the country over the past two days following months of speculation at a local level. 

Cork-based manufacturer Novartis announced it was axing 320 jobs at its Ringaskiddy plant, just one day after US electronics firm Molex said it was cutting up to 500 jobs in Shannon, Co Clare. 

Both companies have outlined a staggered approach to job losses saying they will phase in the cuts by 2022. 

Business Minister Heather Humphreys confirmed the Regional Enterprise Plan Steering Group will coordinate a response to the impact of both Novartis and Molex job losses on the South West region.

The steering committee is made up of industry representatives, local authorities, enterprise agencies and other interested parties. 

Novartis

But locals near Novartis in Cork say they knew jobs cuts were coming and that speculation had been rife among employees in the past 12 months. 

Joe Barry, who has worked for Novartis for 20 years said the company had been a solid and reliable employer until now. 

“We knew things were coming down the line,” he said, adding “it’s the way the pharmaceutical firms are going, smaller volumes which are contracted out to whoever can do it cheaper.

“As you would expect, people are worried. A lot of people are there 25 years or more. We will have to wait and see what pans out. It could change, these things can change. I don’t hold out much hope but you don’t know.”

Novartis has around 700 worker at its Dublin operation which are believed to be unaffected by the move. 

Local Fine Gael councillor, Liam O’Connor who works at the nearby Johnson and Johnson plant in Ringaskiddy, one of several manufacturing plants in the area, said the announcement “is unfortunate for all the employees and their families at this time of year”. 

“There have been rumours about job losses at Novartis for the past 12 months, it’s just unfortunate that it’s such a high number, with 320 jobs going by 2022. 

“There will be no job losses in the immediate term, which will give people a chance to look for somewhere else.” 

He added: “The plant that’s there has been there since the early 90s. I presume the manufacturing plant is quite old and unique in that area so I wouldn’t see a knock-on-effect.” 

Molex 

Minister Heather Humphreys, speaking to reporters at the Shannon Free Zone where Molex is based, said she received no briefings from the job development agencies about any further large-scale imminent job losses. 

The minister was commenting on the large number of job losses being announced in quick succession. 

“This is a bad day for Munster, there is no doubt about that,” she said, adding “two job losses, which is disappointing but nevertheless, there are many job opportunities in this area.”

In a statement, the Shannon-based company said that products made at its plant had “insufficient financial returns and growth potential”.

“Therefore, these products will either be exited or divested, with any remaining products transferred to other Molex facilities,” it said in a statement to staff.

Minister Humphreys met with a number of stakeholders including the IDA, the Shannon Group, and third-level colleges in the Midwest. 

She stated that a skills audit is to be carried out of the Molex workforce, adding there is a rich pool of talent here from the old premises that they worked in.

Humphreys also stated that a jobs fair will also be staged to see what other jobs are available in the region.

Concern

Opposition TDs have called on the Government to fast-track a response to the announcements, and to prioritise attracting new businesses to the area. 

“These are not just 820 jobs, these are the livelihoods of 820 people and their families who are now left with serious worry and stress in the run up to Christmas,” Labour party leader Brendan Howlin said. 

“We also need to see increased efforts from the relevant minister to attract new business opportunities in the South West region,” he added. 

Cork TD and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Novartis announcement was “devastating for the region”. 

“This is a very worrying time for the families and their loved ones. The job losses are particularly disappointing as Novartis in Cork was high-end manufacturing.

“I hope all efforts are made by government and the IDA to prevent as many job losses as possible, to relocate those that lose jobs and to seek an alternative company to invest.”

With reporting from Olivia Kelleher and Gordon Deegan

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