Steelworkers call for government help to meet EU rules
Irish steelworkers have called on the Government to provide financial help as many struggle to meet the cost of complying with recently introduced European Union rules.
The rules mean some steel welders and fabricators have to upgrade their equipment and provide expensive training in order to be able to sell products covered by EU law.
The laws are designed to harmonise product safety standards across the EU.
On Wednesday around 150 people attended a meeting in Claremorris, Co Mayo, at which calls were made for the Government to provide financial assistance to companies through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) network, Mayo County Councillor Damien O'Brien told the Irish Independent.
Mr O'Brien said representatives from a number of Local Enterprise Offices were present.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Jobs said it has held a series of information workshops about the requirements in various locations throughout the country.
"The role of the LEO network is to provide guidance and assistance to small and micro firms, and to signpost these firms to other agencies or bodies where appropriate," the spokeswoman said.
Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary said steel welders and fabricators "face ruin".
"Those that fail to achieve the new accreditation will be unable to sell their products to contractors and as a result they face the prospect of having to go out of business.
"Steel fabricators and welders across the industry are being forced to spend between €20,000 and €30,000 at a minimum to achieve the new standard," Mr Calleary added.
"These companies are already struggling to survive financially without this extra burden being placed on top of them," he said.
"They simply will not be able to achieve accreditation if they do not receive support from the Government.
"Only a handful of companies have achieved the new standard to date.
"This is driving down competition as contractors can only purchase goods from the businesses that have achieved accreditation.
"This is bad news for consumers and businesses alike and will only lead to an increase in prices if immediate action is not taken," Mr Calleary said.