Laid-off aircraft workers in line for EU aid

Workers laid off from Ireland’s ailing aircraft maintenance industry are in line for funds for retraining and backing for their own start-ups from the European Globalisation Fund.
Laid-off aircraft workers in line for EU aid

PWA International, based in Rathcoole outside Dublin, laid off 108 workers, the third such employer in the industry to shut over four years, with the loss of a total of 1,657 jobs.

Lufthansa Technic Airmotive, also at Rathcoole, closed last year, making 415 workers redundant, while SR Technics at Dublin Airport laid off 1,100 in 2009.

Workers from the PWA plant and an ancillary on-site security company, together with 108 young people who are neither in education, work, nor training, will have a total of €732,156 available. A total of 60% will come come from the EU and the balance from the Irish state.

It brings to €105.6m — which includes €68m from the EU — the total paid out since 2009 to help retrain and create work for more than 11,000 redundant workers and 446 young people.

The funding will go towards guidance and career planning and development, as well as vocational training, including specific internships, work placements and experience, and community-oriented training programmes. It will also cover further education initiatives and allowances for courses and employment activation schemes.

The aviation repair and overhaul sector has been hit by a migration of such companies to locations outside the EU, mainly to Asia, where the future aviation growth is envisaged.

The Government lodged the application for funds in June, saying the redundancies at PWA International were hitting the local economy in parts of Dublin and the east, particularly in the areas around Rathcoole, where much of the company’s workforce lived.

“With unemployment rates recently trending upwards in those regions and fewer opportunities within the MRO and wider manufacturing sector, former PWA International workers, particularly older male workers, face increased competition for jobs and an increased risk of entering into long-term unemployment,” they explained.

Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, making the announcement, said that while Ireland’s open economy can have great benefits for growth and employment, it also can increase the risk of jobs being lost in vulnerable sectors and among lower-skilled workers.

While the fund was initially set up to help where companies moved to cheaper labour locations outside the EU, its cope was broadened to include workers made redundant because of the economic crisis, as well as people under the age of 25 years.

Announcing the application for PWA, minister of state for skills Damien English said the fund had been a valuable source for Ireland and helped the Government to assist vulnerable workers.

Ireland has a very good record in receiving such funds, so far securing abut 12.5% of the €545m paid out by the EU.

The scheme has included workers from Dell, Waterford Crystal, Talk Talk, Andersen Jewellery, and about 6,000 people from the construction industry.

The Commission also proposed giving €2.6m from the fund to help 1,200 workers form the computer programming sector in Finland to find new jobs. The sector has been particularly badly hit as Finland is currently going through a recession.

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