GE Healthcare, a global giant which makes hi-tech medical diagnostic equipment, blamed internal industrial relations issues at its global manufacturing site in Carrigtwohill in East Cork for its decision to withdraw the job offers.
Several affected candidates said they have sought legal advice and are now considering their various legal options.
The issue emerged after several people contacted the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s RedFM to complain about how they had been treated.
They said they had attended interviews, passed aptitude and medical tests, had been offered jobs and in some cases, had signed contracts, and were due to start work at the East Cork plant on Wednesday. Several people said they had quit jobs to take up the new positions.
They said they were left shocked and devastated when the company contacted them the day before to say the jobs were no longer on offer.
One woman said her son, who had accepted the GE Healthcare job and handed in his notice to his existing employer, was now left unemployed.
“He is just so deflated. He just doesn’t know what he’s going to do now. He’s unemployed,” she said.
The company’s latest recruitment drive follows a €40m investment in the manufacturing capacity at its Carrigtwohill facility late last year on the back of escalating demand for GE’s disease diagnosis products.
The company announced at the time that it planned to expand its workforce by up to 140.
It is understood that the latest recruitment drive involved the taking on of several dozen people.
But in a statement yesterday, GE Healthcare it was with “deep regret” that it had to withdraw the job offers.
It is understood the withdrawal was prompted by a dispute at the plant over management plans to move from a three-shift to a four-shift pattern at the facility.
“We have held discussions over several months with our employees’ nominated representatives about adding a fourth shift in order to fully utilise this increased capacity,” said a spokesperson.
“We conducted an open, honest and fair process to reach an agreement that is both in the interests of our employees and that meets the increased demand for our products, used globally to monitor and diagnose disease.”
But she said staff who are members of Siptu voted for strike action for September 5 and 6.
“In order to avoid the impact on patients from an interrupted supply, we have reluctantly decided to maintain our current shift arrangements,” she said.
“We deeply regret that this means we are unable to continue with our plans to create additional jobs at the factory, and instead are having to withdraw some job offers. All those affected have been informed.”
However, the company could not say yesterday if the affected candidates might be offered positions again if the dispute is resolved.
SIptu was not available for comment.
GE Healthcare also has sales and support operations in Dublin and Belfast.