Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Beginning of the end' fears for PJ Carroll

June, 1993

Archives - 'The beginning of the end' for one of the town's oldest and most successful employers was the fear, openly expressed in Dundalk in June 1993, when it was revealed that PJ Carrolls was seeking a further 100 redudancies.

The firm was once seen as the essance of stable employment in Dundalk, with workers enjoying the best wages and conditions not just in the town, but countrywide.

Some 30 workers had already lost their jobs at the firm since the start of the year and the additional 100 would depart before the end of July, leaving just 300 employed.

The scale of the redudancies stunned the workforce, for over the eight years since 1985 the company had shed 550 jobs. Back in 1979 the company employed 1,100 workers.

The company blamed the recession and anti-smoking measures and indicated that production at the Dublin Road plant would decline by 30%, with just one daytime shift instead of two.

A redundancy package was revealed and included two severance deals, one for workers under 50 and the other for those over 50.

The man who founded the most famous name in the history of Irish cigarette manufacturing, Patrick James Carroll was born into a relatively well-off Dundalk family in 1803. His interest in the tobacco industry was fostered by his cousin James Carroll, who had a small tobacco factory in Earl Street.

Patrick James started production by hand at the back of the Church Street premises that the firm occupied for many years.

He began to develop markets for his tobacco products in the mid-1880s. The firm's first cigarette was called 'Anti Combine', followed by 'Emerald Green', sold for 3 pence a packet.

After a fire in 1909 at the Church Street premises, a complete rebuilding of the factory took place and led to the rapid development in production, until in 1967 the firm outgrew Church Street and built the country's modern plant on the Dublin Road.

At the period the firm was one of the most successful companies in the country, generating vast profits and rewarding the workers with ever increasing wages and bonuses.

A variety of reasons were offered for the firm's decline culminating in the loss of 100 jobs in June 1993, among those reasons was poor investments in new ventures and changing social habits, with smoking becoming more and more seen as a health risk.

All of this spelled industrial gloom for the town, with union officials estimating that the loss of the 100 well-paid jobs at the company would take £1.5m out of the local economy annually.

The Argus

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