Dell Slashes 1900 Irish Jobs Stuns Country

Ireland suffered its biggest economic blow in years on Thursday when Dell, the American computer group, said that it was slashing its workforce that is based in Limerick and shifting its European manufacturing operations to Poland.

Dell, which is Ireland’s second largest corporate employer and its biggest exporter, said that it was cutting 1,900 jobs in Limerick.  Economists calculate that each Dell job in the country underpins another four to five jobs. It has been calculated that Dell contributed about 5 per cent to Ireland’s GDP in recent years.

Managers at the Limerick plant called in all workers to break the news at 9am on Thursday. They were told that of the company’s 4,300 Irish employees 1,900 — overwhelmingly assembly-line workers — would lose their jobs between April 2009 and January 2010.  By then, the company said, it plans to have transferred the entire Irish production of laptops and desktop computers to a new plant in Lodz, Poland’s third-largest city — where labour costs are at least two-thirds of Dell’s rates in Ireland — and to subcontractors, chiefly in Asia.

Sean Corkery, vice-president of operations, who broke the news to large groups of employees, said: “This is a difficult decision but the right one for Dell to become even more competitive and deliver greater value to customers.”

John Gilligan, the mayor of Limerick, called yesterday “the blackest day” in the city’s history and accused Dell of lacking corporate responsibility by concealing its decision for as long as three years. He added: “It is not a question of 2,000 people being out of work …15,000 people could be impacted.” Mr Gilligan said that he expected comparable state funding to the €185 million (£167 million) that it made available to the pork industry in December after the tainted pig meat scare.

Dell is the dominant employer in Limerick where unemployment is higher than a soaring national rate, nearing 8 per cent.

“The anger inside there is unbelievable,” said Mike Killeen, 36, outside the Dell assembly line where he has worked for seven years. He said Mr Corkery “was savaged inside — and rightly so”.

Mr Killeen added: “This is not about a company that is in trouble. This is about greed, corporate greed. They’re going to Poland because apparently they can make an extra 3 per cent.”



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