Waterford believes job losses have hit it harder than most

TDs complains of little action to generate new employment opportunities

Almost 2,500 local jobs have been cut at IDA Ireland-backed companies since 2008, according to Independent TD for Waterford John Halligan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

No city or town has been spared the trauma of large-scale job losses in the last few years but, with the highest unemployment rate of any urban centre in the State, Waterford cannot be blamed for believing it has been hit

harder than most.

Some 200 imminent redundancies at Bausch & Lomb, with the threat of up to 1,200 jobs lost if the plant closes because staff do not accept a cost-cutting “deal”, are just the latest in a catalogue of job losses over the last decade.

Since the start of the current recession in 2008, almost 2,500 local jobs have been cut at IDA Ireland-backed companies, according to Independent TD for Waterford John Halligan, while about 500 have been created.

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National figure

Government TD

John Deasy

has been critical in recent months of

IDA Ireland

policy in Waterford, pointing out that the southeast has an unemployment rate consistently five -six percentage points above the national figure.

He told the Dáil yesterday that investment in job-creation “has generally gone to where it’s needed least – Dublin, Cork and Galway” – while the southeast has been “forgotten” by the authorities.

There are “a lot of action plans out there but very little action”, Mr Deasy said.

The most high-profile job losses in the area in recent times came with the closure of Waterford Crystal in January 2009. While the days of many thousands of people earning their living at “the glass” were already long gone, there were still almost 1,000 staff working at the manufacturing plant and visitor centre on Waterford’s Cork Road when the receivers shut the doors.

Local jobs

In 2007 the closure of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Aventis cost 200 local jobs. Elsewhere in the pharma sector, British drug group GlaxoSmithKline cut 130 jobs in Dungarvan, with generics giant

Teva

making 315 employees redundant.

Citibank announced last year that it was closing its Waterford office with the loss of 50 jobs, while 74 jobs were cut last October at Honeywell Turbo Technologies in the city.

Then there was the shock collapse of communications giant TalkTalk in September 2011. Its closure with just a few weeks’ notice of its contact centre in Waterford saw 550 people lose their jobs, many of them well-paid.

And it has not been the first series of job cuts at Bausch & Lomb. Back in 2011, before it was taken over by Valeant, the company cut 300 positions.