Christmas closure follows year of hits for Iralco workers

The temporary closure over the Christmas period of the Iralco car manufacturing plant is another sharp blow to its employees who have been “through the wars” since April this year, according to a trade union spokesperson.

It was announced last Friday that the Iralco plant in Collinstown, which was purchased by C&F Tooling recently following a period of liquidation, is to be shut down from December 12 until January 12 due to the worldwide downturn in new car sales.

Workers at the plant have been told to take two weeks of their annual leave next month, and to take a further two weeks unpaid leave.

Peter Kenny of the Unite trade union told the Advertiser that the workers were extremely frustrated at the news, having taken so many hits already this year.

“They never thought it would be easy, but the employees had got back to work and there was a market for the car components. But the downturn in the motor industry is kicking in and there is stock left on the shelves. The company has excessive stock; it’s that straightforward,” explained Mr Kenny.

The regional officer for Unite said that following the period when the company was back in business and “everything looked rosy”, the plant’s workers were extremely concerned at what would happen after the period of closure.

“Everyone is asking what will happen on January 12. There is nothing at the moment to suggest there will be anything different. But with the way the world is at the moment, naturally the workers are concerned. They are after taking so many hits, and it is starting again as soon as they are back to work. They are angry and frustrated, as they have done everything that was asked of them,” said Mr Kenny.

Just two months ago Iralco announced a plan to save 300 of the 420 jobs at the manufacturing plant. The company went into liquidation in April this year after the company’s losses became unsustainable. However it was re-opened as a going concern and was purchased during the summer by Galway-based company C&F Tooling.

Managing director of Iralco, Tom Hyland, said this week that the temporary closure was simply mirroring all the firm’s customers who are also closing their operations for Christmas, and that it would be business as usual from January 12.

Fine Gael’s Deputy James Bannon described the Christmas shut-down as “another blow for workers” and “another result of the massive economic downturn that has followed Government mismanagement of the country’s economy”.

“Three hundred workers at the plant face a bleak Christmas with two weeks without pay announced on top of two weeks enforced annual leave.

“The impact of the recession is being felt by the hard-working men and women of the Midlands who are being hit by rising unemployment and Government cutbacks.

“I am disgusted that the hard-working staff at the plant and their families are facing the Christmas period with such uncertainty hanging over them,” said the TD.


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