More than 200 jobs to go at Tralee's BorgWarner factory

‘This news couldn’t come at a worse time for the region. It shows that no industry is safe right now’
More than 200 jobs to go at Tralee's BorgWarner factory
The BorgWarner plant in Tralee is to shut with the loss of 210 jobs. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Efforts will begin immediately to source a replacement employer following today's shock news that BorgWarner is to shut its plant in the town with the loss of 210 jobs.

Staff at the automotive supply company were called to meetings today and informed that the facility is to close on a phased basis between now and March 2021.

The company said that declining demand for the air heater that was produced in Tralee was the reason they have taken the decision. The heaters were manufactured for electric and hybrid vehicles.

In a statement to the Irish Examiner the company said it is very aware of the local impact this decision has on Tralee and will actively engage with employees and local community representatives.

"The Company sincerely regrets this development and, in the event of redundancies, will endeavour to provide a financial package and supports to the 210 impacted employees which recognises their service and commitment to BorgWarner Tralee."

Local man Gerard Trainor who has worked at the plant for over 31 years pictured outside the plant today. Picture: Domnick Walsh
Local man Gerard Trainor who has worked at the plant for over 31 years pictured outside the plant today. Picture: Domnick Walsh

The news has come as a major shock as BorgWarner extended its production lines and facility in Tralee in 2017 with an €11.5million investment to put it at the cutting edge of technology for electric cars, in a move that was seen to secure its long-term position in the town.

Mayor of Tralee Cllr Terry O'Brien, who worked in the factory in the late 80s, said the news was a devastating blow for the town and came as a complete surprise.

"There are people who have workers in that factory for more than 30 years, who gave their lives to it and now it is gone," he said.

"We were already having to contend with the closure of Debehmas which also employed a large number of people. Add to this the 210 people here at it will have a big impact on Tralee."

Ken Tobin the chief executive of Tralee Chamber said BorgWarner was not only a great employer, but their staff are part of the community in Tralee. He said they will commence work immediately with State agencies to repurpose the facility and hopefully secure a new employer.

"This news couldn’t come at a worse time for the region, it shows that no industry is safe right now," he said.

"Having seen the investment they made in 2017, it was clear the plant was ahead of the game with highly skilled staff. Prior to BorgWarner it was Beru and they were always known for their skilled staff, some of whom have been there for 30 years. It will clearly be a challenge for them to reskill for other roles."

"Once the management and staff in Tralee have come to terms with today’s announcement we will be working with key stakeholders to retain the staff in whatever way possible in Tralee and will be calling on the support of all agencies to ensure the plant is repurposed and staff reskilled for alternate jobs immediately," Mr Tobin said.

SIPTU members at the BorgWarner facility also expressed their shock and concern at the decision to cease production of the electric air heaters by the end of the year and to close the factory.

SIPTU Organiser, Joe Kelly said have scheduled a meeting with management as a matter of urgency for Thursday to discuss in detail the reason for the decision which he said has caused shock and concern among workers and the wider community in Tralee.

“We will be seeking to explore if there is a possibility of maintaining any level of production in Tralee. If this cannot be achieved, we will do all in our power to ensure the best terms and conditions for our members affected by the closure.”

Along with the loss of Debenhams the operators of Tralee's popular Aqua Dome announced last week that the attraction was to remain closed until next April.

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