Fears Limerick Leader will be scaled back if printed abroad

THERE are fears one of the country’s top provincial newspapers, the Limerick Leader, will have its operations scaled back if it is printed outside the country by its British owners.

As revealed by the Irish Examiner yesterday, Johnston Press told staff at its printworks on the Dock Road in Limerick that the operation will close in mid-December with the loss of 29 jobs.

The closure will leave just two major print works in locations outside Dublin.

Johnston Press gave no reason for the closure in a statement released to the media yesterday.

“Following a detailed review, it is proposed to cease printing activities at Leader Print Limited with effect from mid-December 2010,” it said. “Consultation with affected staff and their representatives will begin immediately and continue over the coming weeks in an effort to identify ways of avoiding redundancies and mitigating the impact of this proposal. Every effort will be made to minimise redundancies via redeployment and voluntary redundancy. A further announcement will be made in due course following consultation with staff and their representatives.”

The company gave no indication where Monday and Wednesday’s Limerick Leaders, Tuesday’s Limerick Chronicle and two broadsheet papers on Wednesdays and Thursdays will now be printed.

A number of other titles, some Johnston-owned and others independently-owned, are printed there including the Kilkenny People, the Offaly Express, the Clonmel Nationalist and the Clare People.

Unite trade union which represents the printers in Limerick called for urgent support for the mid-west region following the announcement.

“Earlier this year they accepted a reduction in pay and changes to their working conditions in order to ensure the plant remained open,” it said. “It is feared that the work will now be passed out of Ireland altogether. Unite will be meeting with management of Johnston press in the coming days to explore alternative possibilities to closure or, if there are none, to secure a fair redundancy deal for workers who have been loyal to the company for many years.”

The union said this was the latest in a “litany” of closures around Limerick and the mid west.

“We have been promised help from task forces, government agencies and think tanks but nothing is happening on the ground to save the jobs of working people and the future wellbeing of their families,” said Unite regional officer Brendan Byrne.

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