Iralco workers' jobs secured for six months


Some 420 jobs at the Iralco manufacturing plant in Co Westmeath have been secured for the next six months after a meeting between the appointed liquidator and union officials today.

The Iralco plant in Collinstown, Co Westmeath
The Iralco plant in Collinstown, Co Westmeath

The liquidator told union representatives he intends to sell the company as a going concern but that all workers should return to work on Monday.

Union officials met the two High Court-appointed liquidators John McStay and Tom Rogers at the Collinstown factory this afternoon for an update on the situation at the company, which shut its gates on Monday.

In a statement this evening, the Unite trade union said its officials will hold a general meeting with staff at the plant on Sunday.

John Bolger, Unite national officer, said: "We are please to have won another chance at saving these valuable jobs. Today is a good day, but we must be under no illusion that it is anything other than the start of a long haul to safety."

Iralco is one of the longest-established manufacturers in Ireland and was set up in 1964. It produces components from some of Europe's best-known car manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Ford, Seat, Volvo and Jaguar. At one stage it employed 900 people.

It is estimated the Iralco jobs are worth about €8 million annually to the local economy.

In a statement Iralco's board of directors said the company had been in financial trouble for some time. It had struggled in recent years to pay wage increases under the Sustaining Progress national agreement and its successor Towards 2016.

Unions have held a series of meetings with management and liquidators this week.

ATGWU-Unite representatives have called for the plant to be reopened immediately, to allow it to fulfill existing orders and make it a more attractive operation to potential buyers.

“We are focused on saving what we can”, said Unite national officer John Bolger said after talks on Wednesday. “The only way to do this is to get the factory working again as soon as possible.”

Labour TD for Longford/Westmeath Willie Penrose welcomed the news that the Iralco plant is to remain in operation and that it is to be sold as a going concern.

"These 400 jobs are crucial to north Westmeath and to the entire northern midlands area. Iralco has been one of the longest established manufacturing companies in the midlands, having been in Collinstown since 1964. It draws its workforce from all over the midlands and the impact of any closure would be felt across several counties."

Fine Gael labour affairs spokesman Damien English welcomed the announcement but said "a dark cloud will loom" over the jobs at the Collinstown plant unless the Government intervenes in the next six months.

“I am calling on the Government and all relevant State agencies to redouble their efforts in the next six months to secure the future of Iralco. At the very least the Government must strive to ensure that 500 jobs are not lost to the Midlands," he said.

“If after six months the parent company of Iralco is determined to pull out of the Irish market, the Government must ensure an alternative use of the plant. My fear is that Government inactivity will lead to the same situation as in Ballivor when NEC closed: an empty factory with no jobs."

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said it was now very clear that the employment problem is "not just limited to the construction sector".

"Jobs are being lost right across the board, most worryingly in the manufacturing sector. The appointment of a receiver to Iralco in Westmeath this week is just the latest manifestation of this, but again the Government appears quite indifferent to the scale of the growing problem."

Addressing the AGM of the Kerry North constituency this evening, Mr Gilmore said that unless the Government took action to deal with the growing jobs crisis, "we could again shortly see numbers on the Live Register comparable to those witnessed during the bleakest economic periods of the 1980s".