Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Seeing the future

Timing is everything. After last night’s screening of Where’s My Job Gone?, both RTE and TV3 news led with the story that Dell are going to chop 250 jobs in Ireland. Those who had just watched the show would have …

Wed, Apr 30, 2008, 08:17

   

Timing is everything. After last night’s screening of Where’s My Job Gone?, both RTE and TV3 news led with the story that Dell are going to chop 250 jobs in Ireland. Those who had just watched the show would have found the analysis which followed about the job cuts a little superflous.

Granted, it was a fairly odd concept for a show: take two redundant Irish workers to eastern Europe to meet the people who had taken their jobs when their respective factories closed and moved east. But what this No P45 Frontiers brought home to both participants and audience was that multinational companies like Dell will always move to the country which offers the lowest wages and cheapest costs. And that no longer is Ireland.

The two Irish workers visited Poland and the Czech Republic to find countries and people who resembled Ireland and themselves 15 years ago. There’s an abundance of young, bright well-educated people ready to work, government agencies willing to do whatever has to be done to bring those jobs to town and cheap costs all round from rent to transport. The Poles and Czechs probably also have an aspiring Bertie Ahern waiting in the wings – or maybe they could take our one off our hands when he finishes his various laps of honour.

But unlike Ireland, those Polish and Czech workers know that these multinational companies are the geese that will lay golden eggs for only so long. There’s no talk of jobs for life here, like there was in Ireland when companies began moving in to IDA facilities to avail of our cead mile failte and low tax rates. There’ll be no Bosch job waiting for their kids when they leave school.

In eastern Europe, they already know those jobs will go elsewhere when costs go up. Indeed, Poland and the Czech Republic are now facing competition from Romania and the Ukraine and you can sure the costs are even lower as you go further and further east. One of the Czech inward investment executives said the test now was to work out what would happen in five or 10 years when those companies left. It made you wonder if any Irish investment agency folks had been so prescient a decade ago.