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Jacob's decide to shut factory with loss of over 200 jobs

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Staff members at the Jacobs biscuit factory in Tallaght yesterday. The plant is to close with the loss
of 220 jobs

Staff members at the Jacobs biscuit factory in Tallaght yesterday. The plant is to close with the loss of 220 jobs

Staff members at the Jacobs biscuit factory in Tallaght yesterday. The plant is to close with the loss of 220 jobs

More than 200 manufacturing jobs will be lost over the next 12 months as one of Jacob's biscuit factories closes its doors. It marks a second blow to the country's workforce in just a week.

One of the largest employers in Tallaght, Dublin the Jacob Fruitfield Food Group, last night confirmed it was restructuring its operations with the loss of 220 jobs.

Earlier this week, 100 jobs were lost in Dundalk, Co Louth, after efforts failed to save the technology company, iQon Technologies, which had run up liabilities of more than €7m.

The Jacob's factory on the Belgard Road in Tallaght has been operating for 30 years.

It will stop baking biscuits by 2009 and will move some of the manufacturing to cheaper countries in Eastern Europe.

And last night Jacob's, which has been manufacturing in Dublin for more than 150-years, was unable to confirm what percentage of its production would now take place in Ireland.

SIPTU warned that the the decision to close the Belgard factory meant many workers would be joining the growing dole queues. "The prospects of alternative employment for so many workers is slim," SIPTU's Peadar Nolan said.

"The community in Tallaght has never really recovered from the loss of 800 jobs when Packard Electric closed down in 2004."

The union said it would be seeking a meeting with the Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin to express their concern.

When the planned restructuring and investment programme is completed at Jacob's, the firm expects to directly employ 120 people in Ireland. Michael Carey, chair of Jacob Fruitfield Food Group, said that the decision on Belgard had been taken following an extensive review and vowed that the firm would commit in excess of €10m to provide financial support to employees affected by the closure.

"The existing biscuit manufacturing facility at Belgard Road is extremely uncompetitive with outdated manufacturing equipment,'' Mr Carey said.

"It was built in the 1970s and has been operating for many years at just 16pc of its full capacity.

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"Given the continued escalation of costs in recent years and the intensity of competition, we simply cannot continue to absorb the losses generated by this facility.''

Flexible

In March 2006, the jobs of 300 workers at the plant were saved when employees voted to accept new and more flexible working arrangements.

The redundancies will take place on a phased basis from September 2008 to early 2009, with the new package including a redundancy payment and support for retraining and identifying new jobs.

Premium biscuit manufacturing will continue in Cork, where there are plans for investment to increase that factory's capacity to innovate.The company said it would try to reach an agreed financial settlement with the employees affected.

The Labour Party's Pat Rabbitte said the job cuts were a serious blow.

"This is the closure of one of the last manufacturing companies in the area that has a history of almost 100 years in Dublin,'' he said.

Charlie O'Connor, Oireachtas member for Fianna Fail, described it as a "sad day" for Tallaght.

Fine Gael's Brian Hayes urged the Enterprise Minister and the IDA to seek replacement jobs for the area.


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