Workers on edge as US executive to visit Dell plant
WORKERS at Limerick's Dell plant are to receive a visit from global head of operations Michael Cannon in the very near future, as fears grow for the future of the manufacturing plant where 3,000 people are employed.
The Irish Independent has learned of the visit after a US report that executives of the computer giant had agreed to axe the flagship plant.
Pressure is growing on Tanaiste Mary Coughlan -- who has dismissed the reports as "speculation" -- to clarify the intentions of the US firm.
Limerick Mayor John Gilligan last night demanded Ms Coughlan seek immediate answers from Dell to end the uncertainty, saying the Tanaiste and Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment has "an absolute obligation" to contact senior Dell management.
Mr Cannon, Dell's president of global operations, leads the multinational's global organisation which oversees manufacturing, procurement and supply chain activities -- and has a fearsome reputation for slashing costs and his enthusiastic embrace of outsourcing.
He has described Dell's manufacturing model where "everything pretty much winds up going through a Dell factory" as inefficient. In the past, the Limerick plant in Raheen Industrial Estate has been described as "the jewel in the crown" of Dell's international bases.
Earlier this year, Dell closed its desktop manufacturing operation in Texas with the loss of about 900 employees. Dell has admitted it wants to reduce expenses so that in 2010 its costs are $3bn a year lower than they were in 2007.
The Irish Independent understands Mr Cannon's visit to Limerick has been scheduled for a number of weeks and is still in planning. A Dell spokeswoman would not comment on the visit.
Tanaiste Mary Coughlan refused to directly answer a question yesterday as to how long her department has been aware of claims that the Irish Dell manufacturing division was earmarked for closure.
The IDA had been in touch with the Dell parent company, Ms Coughlan said, and the computer giant was taking a global perspective on its future needs. She had not spoken to Dell, but her department "has kept me fully abreast of the situation".
Mr Gilligan said he "found it absolutely amazing that anyone could be so tardy in contacting Dell... My God, does the woman not know there is a thing called a telephone, pick up the telephone and ring them".