Loss of Tesla contract behind closure of factory, unions told

Job losses in Tralee 'couldn't come at a worse time for the region'
Loss of Tesla contract behind closure of factory, unions told
The BorgWarner plant in Tralee, which is to close with the loss of 210 jobs. Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Union representatives have met with the management of BorgWarner to discuss the company’s decision to close its manufacturing plant in Tralee, Co Kerry.

More than 210 workers are to lose their jobs following the company's decision to shut the plant between now and March 2021.

Siptu organiser Joe Kelly said the company explained that the reason for the impending closure was the loss of a contract to produce electric air heaters for car manufacturer Tesla, which constitutes 80% of its production capacity at the plant in Tralee. It added that maintaining the remaining 20% of its operations in Tralee was not viable.

“Siptu representatives sought a commitment from management to source business from other BorgWarner plants across Europe," said Mr Kelly. "However, they were informed that current circumstances in other countries made this approach unfeasible.

“The formal consultation period on redundancy terms will commence next Thursday. Securing the best possible terms for our members and their families is the union’s top priority. The union also intends to engage with local community and political representatives in north Kerry to assess the prospects for alternative and decent employment in the region which has been devastated by this announced closure."

Making its announcement this week, BorgWarner said it was very aware of the impact the decision has on Tralee and would 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,” it said.

Ken Tobin, chief executive of Tralee Chamber, said BorgWarner staff were part of the community in Tralee and that they would work 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," he said. "It shows that no industry is safe right now.” 

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