Saturday 22 July 2017

Key areas where Coughlan failed to save jobs

Anne-Marie Walsh Industrial Correspondent

THE Ryanair debacle is not the first time for Tanaiste and Enterprise Minister Mary Coughlan to come under fire for her failure to save jobs. But this time it's high profile.

Her portfolio has been something of a poison chalice because of the record increase in the live register.

Nonetheless, there has been a wave of criticisms by unions and opposition politicians among others of her initiatives to stem the haemorrhage of jobs, including taskforces, reports, interventions and a job subsidy scheme.

She has also raised the ire of public sector workers by refusing to rule out further pay cuts this year.

In a stinging verdict on her performance, Fine Gael deputy Leo Varadkar said: "Tanaiste Mary Coughlan is an expert at commissioning reports, setting up taskforces and getting the advice of agencies, but getting her to make a decision is another matter entirely."

Among the redundancies that led to major criticism of her ability to carry out her role were:

Hormann Electronics, Cork

Not long into her portfolio, the Labour Party urged the Tanaiste to end her "honeymoon period" in the role in order to save 138 jobs. She responded by speaking of her "disappointment" and assured the workers they were a priority for the government and its job creation and training agencies.

Dell, Limerick

Just before the American computer giant announced it was shedding 1,900 manufacturing jobs last year, the Tanaiste travelled to Dell's Texas headquarters to persuade chief executive Michael Dell to retain the Limerick operation.

The meeting had little effect as the redundancies went ahead and the manufacturing operation moved to Eastern Europe.

However, a government taskforce was set up and the Tanaiste did secure funding for the workers through the European Globalisation Fund.

Waterford Crystal

More than 600 workers lost their jobs when the world-renowned crystal-making operation went into receivership. The Tanaiste insisted she worked hard to find a buyer but had to leave through the back door of a hotel when angry workers confronted her about delays in their statutory redundancy payments.

SR Technics, Dublin

Ironically, SRT was one of the few major jobs announcements where the Tanaiste had some success.

Although 1,135 jobs were lost, she was instrumental in getting former Ryanair executive Conor McCarthy's Dublin Aerospace on board to buy the bulk of its assets.

The new operation promised up to 250 jobs -- but it is understood that just 25 to 30 have been created so far at Dublin Airport.

Element Six, Clare

The industrial diamond manufacturer announced it was relocating to South Africa with the loss of 370 jobs.

Local TD and Labour frontbench spokeswoman Jan O'Sullivan accused the government of doing nothing.

The Tanaiste hit back and insisted there had been a "turnaround" in the country's competitiveness in recent months.

Cadburys, Dublin and Kerry

No job losses have been announced yet, but Ms Coughlan recently came in for severe criticism for "sounding the death knell" for hundreds of jobs at the chocolate maker.

In the wake of the announcement that food giant Kraft was taking over Cadbury, she cast doubt on the future of the Irish operation. "I have been advised that it will be a difficult task to make the case for Cadbury's sustainability in Ireland," she said in the Dail.

Irish Independent

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