Older workers likely to opt for package

KOSTAL expects that up to 50 of the 200 workers who are to lose their jobs at their car component manufacturers plant in Abbeyfeale will opt for voluntary redundancy.

Half the 100 jobs will be lost on the manufacturing lines and another 100 will go in administrative and services areas.

Workers are expecting a superior redundancy package to the one offered by Dell to the 1,900 workers they are letting go in Raheen.

In a previous redundancy, Kostal gave six-and-a-half weeks pay for every year of service, and also factored in shift allowances. Because of the likely terms, some longer-serving workers may opt for voluntary redundancy, sources said yesterday.

One worker who asked not to be named said: “Talks will now take place about the redundancy and we expect it to be far more generous than that offered by Dell to their workers. And in the previous redundancy here, there was no cap like that put on the Dell package.”

Kostal is the main industrial driver of the economy of a wide area which takes in west Limerick, north Kerry and north Cork.

Its customers include Mercedes and BMW.

Local county council member Francis Foley said: “I have two sisters and a brother-in-law working in Kostal. A lot of friends and neighbours and people I went to school with work there. While there are 600 workers there, it is like one big family. Everybody in this part of west Limerick knows somebody with a Kostal connection.”

He commended the company for the manner in which they have dealt with the difficult circumstances they find themselves in.

Mr Foley said: “They have been up-front all the way with the workforce.”

He said they were encouraged that work had been carried out on the plant while it was closed for production over the Christmas period.

Mr Foley said: “They reconfigured the assembly lines, which indicates the company is committed to staying on in Abbeyfeale.

“Remaining competitive now is the key issue.”

Former government minister Gerard Collins, a native of Abbeyfeale, helped bring the plant to the town in 1981 and is a personal friend of the head of the Kostal family, Helmut Kostal.

Mr Collins said: “Helmut Kostal has a very strong personal attachment to the Abbeyfeale plant, which started out with about 18 workers and grew to 1,200 at one stage. He is a very regular visitor and holidays in Kerry regularly. So he is a man who I know will not walk away from Abbeyfeale and will do all in his power to retain production here. They are trying to ride out the storm which has hit the international car industry.”

As they left the plant yesterday, workers were facing uncertain times ahead.

Philip Woulfe said: “We will just have to wait and see what happens and who has to go.”

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