Unions: Hopes of saving electronics jobs gone

Unions representing the 350 workers laid off at the NEC Semiconductors plant in Co Meath tonight said all hopes of saving the jobs were gone.

John Regan, a SIPTU official, said extensive talks between the union and senior management at the leading microchip manufacturing firm had failed to change the the decision to close the NEC plant in Ballivor.

After the emergency meeting held at London’s Heathrow Airport, Mr Regan said he was deeply disappointed. He said the management had listened to the union’s warnings about the devastating effects the closure would have on workers and the community but would not be swayed.

“We knew we were swimming against the tide on this one, but we had to give it our best shot – for our members and their families,” Mr Regan, SIPTU’s Meath branch official, said.

“There is still a question to be answered on the level of consultation between NEC and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and company’s compliance with the Protection of Employment Act.”

On Tuesday, NEC Electronics announced the closure of its Co Meath factory, blaming soaring production costs for the loss of 350 jobs.

Some 350 jobs – including 300 full-time and 50 part-time- will be lost when operations cease in September and production is moved to Malaysia.

The Taoiseach yesterday said the Government would do its best to find new jobs for the 350 workers.

In a statement, parent company NEC Electronics Corporation said the decision came down to the increasingly high operating costs.

NEC Electronics said it was forecasting group operating losses for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, and has been stepping up cost-cutting measures to improve its financial performance.

The decision to cease production at Ballivor was one of these measures, the company said.

NEC Semiconductors is a subsidiary of Japanese manufacturing giant NEC Electronics. With 26 subsidiaries NEC employs almost 24,000 workers worldwide based at 12 plants in Japan and 14 others across the globe.

The company said it had initiated discussions with union leaders and state agencies on compensation packages and support services, toensure that the impact to employees, their families and the local community and economy is minimised.

NEC has been based in the Co Meath village for 30 years employing people from the local area and was one of the first IDA backed companies to come to Ireland.

The majority of the workforce are believed to be aged around 40 and half of the employees are thought to have been with the company for around 10 years.

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