GERMAN manufacturing giant, Kostal, has confirmed it will undertake a phased resumption of operations at its Cork and Limerick plants after a month-long shutdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a move hailed as a significant indicator of the likely 'bounce back' of the Irish economy once virus restrictions are eased, the electronic component manufacturer confirmed it resumed operations with around 100 staff at its Abbeyfeale and Mallow plants from today.
The firm, which makes components for the automotive sector, had temporarily shut both its plants on March 25 due to the effective wind-down of the global car industry because of the virus pandemic.
"Kostal has taken the decision to implement a phased resumption of operations at its Abbeyfeale and Mallow plants commencing Wednesday," a company spokesperson said.
"This decision is in response to a gradual return of demand for our products in markets where automotive production has started to resume. We expect up to 10pc of our staff back on site this week.
"With the health and safety of our staff a priority, both sites will be implementing and strictly adhering to social distancing and other measures as per HSE guidelines."
However, it may be some time before both plants reach pre-shutdown employment levels.
The two plants employ over 1,000 staff and have been shutdown since March 25.
It was initially flagged that the closures would remain effective until April 27.
The shutdown decision followed the widespread closure of major car production plants in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain because of the Covid-19 crisis.
Kostal is a leading producer of electronic and mechanical components for the automotive sector.
The firm has established itself as one of the largest employers in Munster - and the dominant employer in both the Mallow and Abbeyfeale areas.
A source indicated that it has been "a very challenging time" for the firm, its employees and their families.
The company source said that both the firm and its employees are "severely impacted because of this (virus) event."
Amongst the products made by Kostal are components for the next-generation of plug-in hybrid and and all-electric vehicles.
Kostal Ireland currently has 1,038 employees with 693 employees at Abbeyfeale and 345 in its Mallow plant.