Bruton denies firm’s announcement delayed to suit elections

Minister says department had been working to secure some jobs at company for a while

 Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton  speaking  outside Leinster House  yesterday.  “The situation is [that] the cost level is out of line and the company has expressed the view that it now must have a serious restructuring of its costs in order to secure the future of the plant,” he said. Photograph:  Collins

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton speaking outside Leinster House yesterday. “The situation is [that] the cost level is out of line and the company has expressed the view that it now must have a serious restructuring of its costs in order to secure the future of the plant,” he said. Photograph: Collins

Fri, May 30, 2014, 01:00

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said it was an “exceptionally difficult day” for Bausch & Lomb workers and their families.

But he denied that the timing of the decision had been delayed until after the recent local and European elections.

The Minister said his department had been aware of the difficulties faced by the company for some time, but was only informed of the jobs losses on Wednesday.

“The situation is [that] the cost level is out of line and the company has expressed the view that it now must have a serious restructuring of its costs in order to secure the future of the plant,” the Minister said.

Independent TD for Waterford John Halligan said earlier in the day that Mr Bruton and IDA Ireland had known “for months” about the pending redundancies but didn’t make any public statement.

“It’s [because of] the local elections,” Mr Halligan said. “That’s no way to be treating people.”

A spokesman for the department said: “There is no question of the announcement being delayed. The company’s final decision was communicated to the department and IDA yesterday [Wednesday].”

Mr Bruton said he and his department, as well as the IDA, had been working over a number of months to “protect the maximum possible number of jobs” they could in the Waterford plant, and said the Government would provide a “package of support” if the company can commit to protecting some jobs.

‘Working intensively’

“I have known about the challenges that faced this company over a number of months and we have been working intensively with the company for a long number of months,” Mr Bruton said. “Their decision was only decided and communicated yesterday, when we found out what exactly they proposed.”

The Minister said his department had been working to secure some jobs at the company for a while. “Our job was to make sure we could minimise the losses and maximise the long-term prospects for secure jobs into the future.”

He said it was not “unusual” for the Department of Jobs to work with companies to “future proof” them.