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Tearful Tayto staff call for a halt to outsourcing as city factory closes

WORKERS at the Tayto crisps factory, which closed yesterday, have called on the Government to step in to reverse the trend of outsourcing in Irish industry.

The landmark plant in Coolock on Dublin's northside shut its doors after 37 years in business, with the loss of 98 production jobs.

Tayto crisps will now be made at Largo Foods in Ashbourne, Co Meath, which already manufactures competitor brands Mr Perri and Hunky Dorys.

Some 166 of the Coolock jobs have been retained across sales, marketing, finance and technical sectors and will shortly be relocating to a new Tayto site in Clonshaugh.

John Keogh, managing director, of Tayto Ireland Ltd said it was a "sad day".

The Coolock plant had been a popular place to work and the workers had been a "great team of people" and he was "quite pleased" the majority of them had found new employment to go to.

They had also received redundancy packages to ease the transition.

Mr Keogh defended the decision to outsource, saying the company operated in a very competitive market and must maintain its position as the number one brand.

"Research has shown that among Irish consumers, three out of four prefer Tayto but the marketplace has become very competitive and that requires us to launch new products," said Mr Keogh.

In order to generate the resources to innovate new products and retain their number one position, the company had to take certain steps among which was outsourcing, he said.

He denied the company would lose control over its product by outsourcingTayto would retain the recipe and continue to use the ingredients according to its specification.

"Largo are really just putting the crisps in the bag," he added.

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Mr Keogh said the decision to outsource was not new. Their snacks production, including products such as popcorn and the Chipstix and Snax brands, formerly made at the Terenure plant, had been manufactured at Largo Foods since 2003.

However long-term workers leaving the plant for the last time yesterday expressed concern that the government was allowing the trend of outsourcing to escalate in all sectors of Irish industry.

One employee, Frank Murray, said it was hard to reconcile the redundancies with the fact that the jobs still existed and the product would continue to be made.

"Tayto's output has been steady last year and they're still making plenty of money but it's a sad reflection on the company that these jobs were not saved," he said.

A crisp cook with the company for more than 22 years, he said he had "reared his family from Tayto crisps" and was extremely sad to see the factory go. It was a bad day for Irish industry in general.

"We see it with Irish Ferries and increasingly we're seeing more and more companies shutting down because they can get cheaper labour elsewhere," he said.

Other workers said that the Government would have to step in to protect Irish jobs against outsourcing.

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