It was less amusing to hear our politicians expressing surprise and regret at the move. They need not have been surprised and nobody believes they ever suffer from regret.
Dell set up a two plants in Poland two years ago as soon as that country got into the EU. They even sent over Polish workers to be trained by their Irish counterparts here.
Dell needs access to the EU market by having their machines built in Europe. This avoids import taxes and that was provided to them in Ireland. Dell has been losing market share — mainly to HP, but to other PC vendors as well — for the last few years. Did anyone in Government even bother to wonder why? If you take the trouble to find certain websites, you you will discover a great number of complaints about anything from the shoddy build of the products to the lousy after-sales service. Dell has been facing the same problem as every other PC maker, which is that customers expect lower prices.
This involves reducing the cost of manufacture. If your workforce can’t buy a house for less than €350,000, if they have a hopeless public transport system and need to rely on very expensive motoring, if they are confronted with stealth taxes on everything they buy and if the cost of living is nearly the highest in Europe (because of the policies of you know who), then they are naturally going to seek higher wages just to survive.
Polish workers can afford to work for one-third of the wages paid here.
Large multinationals need to site their businesses in a modern infrastructure that gives them easy access to their markets and free, rapid movement for their people. Very late in the day our representatives realised that a shock to Limerick was imminent. It needed somebody to go over and spend time with Michael Dell and convince him to change his mind. What was needed was someone dynamic who understood the IT industry, an accomplished thinker and speaker with the authority to offer serious incentives and the ability to present these to Mr Dell in an advantageous light. Instead we sent Willie O’Dea and Mary Coughlan.
It’s hard to blame Dell because they, after all, are only in it for the money. But what of our home-grown political millionaires? Will we finally wake up to these scam artists when they are the only ones financially secure among us? And what should we do with them then?