Up to 200 contractors could lose jobs at Cork Novartis plant, Dáil hears

Minister confident of new investment, jobs at Molex and Cork companies

Fianna Fáil TD  McGrath called for clarity on their situation and said all the Novartis workers had valuable skills and experience and there was production capacity for which there should be a market. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil TD McGrath called for clarity on their situation and said all the Novartis workers had valuable skills and experience and there was production capacity for which there should be a market. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

The jobs of up to 200 contractors working at the Novartis pharmaceutical company may be lost along with the 320 redundancies the multinational has already announced, the Dáil has been warned.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said it was his understanding that there were between 150 and 200 contractors working for the company in Cork, some of them for between 10 and 15 years.

“And if one of the two production buildings is going to be shut down over the next two years or so, then inevitably those contractors will also lose their jobs,” he said.

Mr McGrath called for clarity on their situation and said all the Novartis workers had valuable skills and experience and there was production capacity for which there should be a market.

He was speaking in the Dáil as Minister for Business Heather Humphreys answered questions about the 820 job losses both at Novartis and at Molex electronic components company based in Shannon, Co Clare.

The Minister stressed that “we have reason to be confident that we will find new investments and new employment for the Molex employees at Shannon” and for affected employees at Novartis.

Ms Humphreys told Mr McGrath she would find out about the contractors. “Two hundred contractors are a lot of people and that’s a lot of families who are going to be impacted.”

Global restructuring

The Minister stressed that every form of state assistance and support would be provided to employees at both firms and there was a “rich pool of talent” there.

She said Novartis stated that the job losses were part of a global restructuring consolidation and the jobs would go elsewhere in Europe and to Asia with 60 redundancies in 2020, 80 in 2021 and 180 in 2022.

Novartis had also stressed its other operations in Dublin would not be affected.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry described the Cork jobs loss announcement as a “scandal” when on Tuesday it announced a profit increase of 15 per cent. He believed it was important for workers to meet to discuss how they could “push back”.

He added that “there is a question mark over the industrial model the State uses”.

Large employer

Sinn Féin Limerick TD Maurice Quinlivan said it was the largest job loss since computer giant Dell closed in Limerick 10 years ago and “those Dell workers are now caught up in another redundancy”.

He called for EU funding to be drawn down to support workers and said EU officials had described Ireland as “particularly bad at drawing down funds”.

Ms Humphreys said Molex had been one of Co Clare’s biggest employers and “these jobs cannot be replaced overnight” but “there are many employers out there looking for that skill set”.

She said the chief executive of Molex told her the decision could not be changed.

A meeting of key stakeholders on Wednesday including State agencies set up a core team of key people who will coordinate a response locally.

She said they would get the best possible support from the European globalisation fund but warned that “you don’t rush in to make an application” but plan it properly.