Kingspan blames downturn for 24 layoffs

THE downturn in the property market is being blamed for the loss of 24 jobs at a timber-frame manufacturer in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

Kingspan Century says the layoffs of the last remaining 24 manufacturing employees are “temporary” and they hope to source new contracts in coming weeks so activity at the plant can resume.

The company employed up to 150 people in the town a year ago but the general decline in house-building in recent months has seen its business suffer.

Kingspan Century has been based at the IDA industrial estate in Dungarvan for almost 10 years, in the former Waterford Foods factory, and rapidly expanded its local workforce during the property boom.

It is believed many of the 24 staff being laid off are from eastern Europe.

The company yesterday blamed “current market conditions” for the lay-offs.

Company managing director Gilbert McCarthy said: “In recent months, the Dungarvan plant has been exclusively working on contracts for the UK market. In the coming weeks we will endeavour to identify work for the facility from our UK and Irish businesses.”

Mr McCarthy said, as a result of this change, “we will be temporarily laying off a number of staff in Dungarvan, and taking them back on as soon as market conditions allow”.

Kingspan Century is headquartered in Monaghan but also has bases in Longford and Tullamore as well as Dungarvan.

Mayor of County Waterford Billy Kyne said it would be “preferable” to save the local jobs, “but if it’s inevitable that they go, I’d want to see a redundancy package for the workers to match other redundancy packages in the area”.

Fine Gael senator Paudie Coffey described the job news as “another massive blow to the town and county Waterford”. He said that the jobs will be “particularly hard to replace in the tightening economic climate”.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment is visiting Dungarvan and the south-east on Monday on a fact-finding exercise to canvass opinions and discuss how to counteract economic disadvantage.

Senator Coffey called on the delegation to report back on the “serious challenges” to job creation that exist in towns like Dungarvan and to convey to the Government, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland “the importance of promoting sustainable job creation policies in the south-east”.

Meanwhile, SIPTU yesterday said 55 of its members employed by Unilever had been left angry over a management decision to axe their jobs as part of a review process. Last year 125 jobs were lost at the Inchicore plant.

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