Irish sportswear manufacturer O’Neills says it’s going into the hospital scrubs business – just days after laying off most of its 900-member work force because of sporting fixture shutdowns.
The Strabane-based firm last week had said it would not re-hire workers and resume production until May 5 at the earliest.
But today it announced: “With immediate effect, O’Neills are manufacturing scrubs for the Health and Social Care Trusts”.
Those six trusts manage and administer hospitals, health centres, residential homes, day centres and ambulance services across Northern Ireland.
“We are delighted to support the work of front-line healthcare staff,” O’Neills said.
It declined publicly to specify how many scrubs it would manufacture or how many staff would be involved in the work.
But it is understood that around 150 workers will return to the Strabane factory to produce around 10,000 scrubs a week.
O’Neills said those staff would stay at least two meters apart while working.
“The health and safety of our workers is paramount. We are observing government hygiene and distancing protocol,” O’Neills said.
Last week O’Neills said it was laying off almost all of its 700 workers in Strabane and 200 in Walkinstown, Dublin.
O’Neills cited “the postponement and cancellation of sporting activities, and the complete cessation of orders received from clubs and retailers across the business”.