Naas firm to shut down with the loss of 280 jobs

 

Some 280 workers at Magna Donnelly Electronics in Naas, Co Kildare are to lose their jobs following the announcement by the company's Canadian owners that they intend to close the factory. Operations are expected to cease by the end of 2007.

The company, which manufactures mirrors for the automotive industry, said it would hold a 30-day consultation period with its employees on the proposed closure. Production is to be switched to other Magna plants in the United States and Europe.

The decision to close came after months of evaluating the facility's financial status, operational performance and future products, according to a statement issued by Magna Donnelly yesterday.

The company said the decision was a difficult one, "particularly considering the impact it will have on employees and the community" but it insisted a combination of declining sales, competition and high costs had made the facility no longer viable. Employees and unions had been kept informed regarding the possible closure over the past few months, the company said.

"Management will now focus on a smooth transition of current business to other Magna facilities while at the same time providing assistance to employees as they seek new employment," the company added.

However Siptu branch organiser at the plant Joan Wisdom said the news had come as a blow and workers were deeply upset by the announcement.

"Many of the employees have given long service to Magna Donnelly, helping to build the brand name and the profile of the company over the years. Many younger employees have family responsibilities and mortgages to cope with," said Ms Wisdom.

Magna Donnelly - formerly Donnelly Mirrors - has been in Kildare since 1969.

Siptu is seeking an early meeting with company management to discuss the implications of the decision for the workers and to negotiate the best severance deal possible, she concluded.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin expressed his deep disappointment at the announcement. "I have asked that every support will be made available to the staff of the company by the State agencies to assist those affected by this announcement to find alternative employment as soon as possible," the Minister said.

The Labour Kildare North TD, Emmet Stagg, said the announcement was "sadly inevitable as the plant had been limping on since the workforce was halved last year".

Offering his sympathies to the Magna Donnelly employees, he said the priority now would be to ensure an adequate and beneficial redundancy package for these staff.

The closure was typical of a wider trend whereby traditional manufacturing jobs were being lost, he said.