ALMOST 400 people were last night resigned to joining ever-increasing dole queuesas two factories laid off staff because of Ireland’s spiralling costs.
After the worst unemployment figures for 14 years, multinational Teva Pharmaceuticals let go 315 of its 730-strong workforce in Waterford.
Meanwhile, 77 people were made redundant at paper manufacturer Georgia-Pacific in Finglas, north Dublin.
Both firms blamed the challenges of high operating costs and the difficult economic environment on the phasing back of works.
The devastating losses in the south-east compound the unemployment crisis in the region after hundreds of lay-offs at Waterford Crystal, electronic components firm ABB Transformers and contact lens maker Bausch & Lombe.
Labour’s Brian O’Shea called on Ireland investment agency, the IDA, to redouble efforts to bring jobs to the region. “Because of the huge increase in the numbers on the live register those who are to be laid off will face huge difficulties in finding alternative employment.” said.
The IDA-backed firm, formerly known as IVAX, makes inhalers and tablets and is among the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world.
It plans to phase out the production of its Oral Solid Dose business early next year.
Teva did not reveal where production is moving to but a site in eastern Europe is being considered.
Dr Tom McCabe, of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, said workers affected will get a generous redundancy package, training and outplacement services and stressed that Waterford remained a key strategic site for Teva Global.
“Over the last number of years Teva has invested €75m to upgrade facilities at the site and will continue to be a significant employer in Waterford, employing over 400 people,” he added.
But local Fine Gael TD, John Deasy called on the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to give advice and support to save businesses and jobs at risk in the region.
He added: “Our Government representatives need to stem the momentum of decline that seems to be gripping Waterford City.”
Employee Sharon Kennedy said: “No union was informed and we only heard about this yesterday [Thurs]. I’m out on maternity at the moment.
“Our business is gone here in the solid dose facility but the others across the road in the other facility — in inhalations — are allowed to keep their jobs.
“Some of them are there less than four, five years — some of us are here over 14 years and our jobs are gone.”
John Dunne, who has been working with the company for over 19 years, said: “I think it’s a joke. For every production worker, there’s three people working in the offices; how can any company survive like that?
“We could see it coming; I think the only ones who couldn’t see it coming were management.”
However, some workers yesterday said they were shocked. Lynn Barry said: “We can’t believe this is after happening; I mean, 315 jobs? It’s unreal.”
She said that the unions would have to negotiate with management regarding the cuts, as some workers with longer service records, were going to lose their jobs before those with less years working with the company.
Hazel McCarthy added: “This is devastating for the workers and for the town itself. People are more mad now than anything else — the way it just came out of the blue.”
Meanwhile, 80 jobs were lost at Morrison Utilities — a telecommunications contractor for Eircom.
Another 60 positions are also under threat at An Post in Portlaoise amid reports the firm lost a major contract with a British catalogue supplier.
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