Dáil Éireann - Volume 637 - 26 June, 2007

Written Answers. - Job Protection.

Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he proposes to take to secure the future employment of staff at a company (details supplied) in County Westmeath; the discussions which have taken place between the State agencies and the company concerned; the plans there are to relocate other planned developments by another company to the Athlone site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16685/07]

  Deputy Micheál Martin: On 7 May, the company in question announced that it was necessary for it to discontinue with immediate effect, the sale of the sole product manufactured in Athlone. On 22 May, the company advised all employees that it was considering closing its facility in Athlone and entered into a period of consultation with employees and their representatives.

In the meantime, discussions had been taking place between IDA Ireland and local management in Athlone and the management of the parent company in the United States. These discussions centered on the possibilities of finding alternative products that could be moved to Athlone at short notice. Efforts to find such products continued throughout May and June but were unsuccessful.

Last Friday, the company advised its employees that it had no alternative but to cease operations in Athlone. Some 32 staff will remain to the end of August to decommission the facility. A further 12 staff members are being relocated to other facilities in Ireland and 65 staff members have already succeeded in finding alternative employment. The balance, 54 people, have received one month’s notice of redundancy. The company is supporting its staff through active outplacement and the hosting of job fairs.

Both the company and IDA Ireland will be actively involved in promoting the site and, indeed, there have already been visits to Athlone by potential new tenants. However, at this stage, [399] it is too early to say when a new employer might occupy the facility. The Employment Services of the Industrial Training agency FÁS are working with the company to assist the workers to find employment, identify training needs and provide guidance and training where necessary. In addition, the agency is co-operating with the Athlone Institute of Technology in the provision of appropriate services for the workers.