Wednesday 13 December 2017

Two firms line up 140 new jobs as 60 staff shocked by shutdown

Sarah Stack and Lyndsey Telford

TWO firms have revealed plans to hire 140 workers on the same day as 60 jobs were lost suddenly at Curragh Carpets in Newbridge.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said call centre provider Voxpro has already started filling its 100 positions, while meat processing company Kepak Group has 40 new posts on top of 60 jobs recently filled.

Voxpro is recruiting multilingual, technical positions that will see its work force increase to 330 within the next three months.

Mr Kenny said the jobs announcement, supported by Enterprise Ireland, is great news for Cork and the local economy.

"The Government is transforming Ireland into a competitive, enterprise-focused economy which is helping companies like Voxpro to expand and grow," he said.

When Dan Kiely, chief executive, set up the indigenous company 14 years ago with his wife Linda they employed six people.

"Today, we are Ireland's leading provider of 24/7 technical customer management in business process outsourcing, operating in 12 languages to over 300 indigenous and global organisations, and we continue to expand at a rapid pace," Mr Kiely said.

It manages a number of large-scale contracts for national and international organisations, including one of the world's top search engine providers, sixteen county councils, a number of Irish hospitals and health care providers and some of the largest NGOs.

Elsewhere Simon Coveney, Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister, welcomed the expansion at Kepak consumer food facility in Watergrasshill, Co Cork.

"I am pleased to announce that this is projected to grow by a further 40 during 2013 thanks to the success of the Kepak Cork team in developing highly innovative meat products to serve the retail and consumer food markets," he said.

The Kepak Group, which employs almost 600 people in Cork, supplies ready chilled meat packs to the Musgrave Group's SuperValu and Centra stores and processes a range of slow-cooked own label and branded meats.

John Horgan, managing director, said Kepak Cork is now one of the largest employers and its expansion was supported by An Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland.

He said it also contributes around €200m a year to the local economy - partly through buying livestock from local farmers and sourcing raw materials from the area.

"As our prime interface with the Irish retail sector Kepak Cork is a key facility within Kepak Group," said Mr Horgan.

"We are investing in the site to ensure it remains 'best-in-class' and to expand the production capability to service a growing consumer demand for slow cooked meats."

However, the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (Siptu) condemned the way in which workers at Curragh Carpets in Newbridge, Co Kildare, were told the company was to close with 60 job losses.

It claimed staff were called to a meeting at noon, where they were briefed by a liquidator and told to leave the premises.

Siptu organiser Miriam Hamilton said generations of families have worked at the facility which has been in operation for more than 70 years.

"The closure of this long-established manufacturing plant has left the workers and their families in a state of shock," she said.

"Curragh Carpets is the successor company to Ireland's oldest carpet manufacturer, Irish Rope.

"Generations of the same families in the Kildare area have been employed at the carpet manufacturing plant.

"They have been treated disgracefully by the company and must now apply to the social fund for payment of their outstanding wages and redundancy entitlements.

"The manner in which the workers were notified of this closure is unacceptable, as is the fact that the costs of the closure in terms of outstanding wages and redundancy payments must be borne by the State."

Siptu, which represents 35 production staff, said it will do all it can to assist members.

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