THE Schering-Plough crisis is just the latest in a growing series of job losses and “restructuring” moves involving Cork and Munster-based companies which have turned the region into one of the worst unemployment blackspots in the country.
Since the end of the Celtic Tiger, a series of electronics companies, pharmaceutical firms and other businesses have told thousands of employees to join the dole queues, further bloating the live register.
In May, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced it was “restructuring” its Irish operations, resulting in 785 job cuts – 300 of which were at its Loughbeg and Shanbally plants in Cork.
Almost a year earlier, in July 2009, another 140 were told to join the dole queues at the 173-strong Smurfit Kappa site in Togher, Co Cork.
The announcement came just three months after German firm Amann closed its textile factory in Tralee, Co Kerry – the second largest manufacturer employer in the region – with the loss of 200 jobs, and six months after the devastating news that Dell was reducing its Limerick staff levels by almost 2,000 people.
The immediate impact of these cuts can be seen in the live register figures for August 2010.
According to the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) update, 63,700 people are now on the Live Register in the south-west, with 11 people losing their job in the region every day over the past 12 months.
While the total figure is lower than the border counties (66,070) and Dublin (112,306), it is the second highest unemployment rate in the country for over-25s, with one in seven in that age group and without a job now living in Munster.
A recent Cork Economic Monitor report also found that Cork’s male and female unemployment rates are 3% and 2% higher than the national average respectively, while unemployment in the city has risen by more than 150% in the past decade.
Fine Gael TD for Cork South Central Deirdre Clune said the 160 Schering-Plough job losses over the next three years risk plunging the country, and the region, into further economic turmoil.
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