The recent spate of job cuts at Dell looks set to impact Athlone in the coming months, as reports emerged this week that Dell subsidiary Alienware is to close its manufacturing plant in Athlone.
Fears continue to grow for the future of 70 jobs at the Alienware manufacturing plant at Blyry, after management entered into a 30-day consultation period with employees on Monday.
It is understood that Alienware is considering completely closing down its Athlone and Miami plants, although a spokesperson for Alienware was unable to confirm how many employees would be affected.
Spokesperson Annette Condon could only confirm that the company is “reviewing its operations”. While it currently serves six markets, Alienware is planning to expand to 35 markets, and a certain amount of restructuring will be necessary to facilitate this expansion, she said.
“We need the appropriate infrastructure in place to support this expansion. We intend to leverage third party manufacturing partners and to use existing Dell manufacturing facilities. This will enable us to reach a lot more customers, and while these are difficult decisions, we need to streamline and improve our business.”
“We hope to maintain a presence in Athlone, albeit at a smaller level,” Ms Condon added.
The news of the layoffs hit earlier this week when a leaked memo from Alienware general manager Arthur Lewis outlined a number of divisions where redundancies were to occur, suggesting also that manufacturing operations in Athlone and Miami were to close.
Alienware was established in Athlone in 2002, and acquired by Dell in 2006. It is thought that any changes, including layoffs, are to be implemented by October, and that manufacturing facilities for the Alienware PCs are to be moved to Poland.
Frustrated by this latest jobs blow to Athlone, local politicians have vowed to take the matter to the national stage.
Fine Gael TD James Bannon took the opportunity in Dail Eireann yesterday to raise the lack of competitiveness and high costs engendered by the Government, which he said is threatening the closure of Alienware.
“It is incumbent on the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment to offer whatever incentives and assistance are necessary to avert this closure. Measures must be put in place to stop the rot in the Midlands,” he said.
“Job losses in Longford/Westmeath rose in the last year by 88.5 per cent in Westmeath. This is untenable. With companies like Alienware on the verge of relocating to Poland, the Government must increase our competitiveness by such measures as reversing the VAT increase and loan guarantees for businesses.”
Meanwhile Senator Nicky McFadden promised to raise the matter in the Oireachtas. “I am urging Alienware to do all it can to maintain its Athlone plant and retain as many jobs as possible,” she said.
“Twelve months ago, no one would have believed that any Dell jobs would be at risk. This proves the damage that has been done to the Irish economy by the last 11 years of the Government’s boom and bust policies.”
Athlone town councillor Paul Hogan and Sinn Fein candidate for the North West EU constituency, Cllr Padraig McLochlainn, added that everything possible must be done to protect the Alienware jobs.
“This is a very worrying time for the workforce at Alienware. There needs to be a government focus on job retention – in intervening where there is a risk of jobs being lost. This appears to be exactly such a case,” they said.