Farah to close Galway factory with 70 jobs


THE 70 workers at the Farah clothing manufacturing plant in Galway, who were laid-off without pay following a fire three weeks ago, were told yesterday that the facility is to close permanently.

Before management of the US-owned company announced the closure, workers conceded their jobs were gone but said they were anxious to secure an acceptable redundancy package.

Last week, the workers staged a sit-in at the plant, which has been based in Shantalla for 16 years. Management has not given a commitment to stop the transfer of machinery to the company's sister plant in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. It is understood that the 140 jobs there are not threatened.

The sit-in ended when the general manager of the plant, Mr Tom Tuohy, agreed to meet workers yesterday. He was with company vice-president, Mr Timothy Page, who made the announcement.

In a short statement to workers, the company said: "Over the past number of years Farah (Exports) Ireland has experienced substantial trading losses. The recent fire at the Galway facility has compounded the situation and, with much regret, the directors have decided to close the facility."

SIPTU official, Mr Pat Powell, said that his understanding was that no final decision had been made on the future of the Kiltimagh plant "but the indications are that it will continue in some form".

The workers' anger, he said, had been compounded by the revelation that land around the Shantalla plant had been purchased from Farah last summer by a Galway-based development company with links to Farah, which planned to develop the site.

Farah, which has its headquarters in Texas, has had a turbulent history in Galway. The plant, which manufactures jeans and men's trousers, has been threatened with closure on several occasions. At one point it experienced difficulties in the British market, while it has had two serious fires in recent years.

SIPTU shop steward, Mr Brendan Glynn, said his members were bitter about the manner with which machinery was moved from the plant and with being kept in the dark on a change of ownership of the facility.

The sit-in ended after Mr Tuohy gave a commitment not to remove any more machinery but neither he or any other senior management representative, was available for comment on the closure yesterday.

Workers representatives and management are to meet on Friday to consider a redundancy package.