A DECADE ago, it employed almost 1,000 people. Known as an excellent employer with excellent terms and conditions, its vast car park boasted more than its fair share of Audi A4s and C-Class Mercedes.
Many of the large homes dotted around the nearby Innishannon and Bandon areas were built before the Celtic Tiger boom with Schering-Plough wages.
But dark rain clouds loomed large over the rolling fields around the Brinny plant in West Cork yesterday as its 519 staff filed quietly from the main buildings to a specially erected marquee where they were told of plans to shed 160 jobs over the next three years.
Staff filed back to the main plant two hours later and attended departmental briefings. Union officials arrived at around 4pm to meet with company management.
Most staff were reluctant to speak to reporters as the evening shift began.
But Sinead Collins said it had been a very detailed briefing and that the mood of workers was “positive enough”.
“Our managing director gave a good outline of what will happen over the coming months,” she said.
“People have to take it on board now. There is a lot to think about for everyone’s future. We’ll just have to go away and consider what impact it will have on us.”
Labour Senator Michael McCarthy, who worked at the plant from 1998 to 2002 before taking up politics full-time, said the loss of 160 jobs from this rural area is on a par with the loss of 500 jobs in an urban setting.
“Losses of this scale in this sector would indicate that the Government strategy of developing and supporting employment is now in disarray,” he said.
“We know that each lost job costs the exchequer about €20,000 per year so prolonged periods of unemployment for these workers is in nobody’s interest.
“Unfortunately, if the Government’s track record is anything to go by, we can’t expect any action with regard to job creation for these workers, any time soon.”
Irish Rural Link, the national network campaigning for sustainable rural communities, said the job cuts confirm the need for a rural and regional employment strategy.
Spokesperson Seán O’Leary said Schering-Plough’s Brinny plant is a rare example of a major, multinational employer located in a rural area.
“Their commitment to the future of the plant is welcome but job losses on this scale are devastating for rural areas,” he said.
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