22 May 2003 Edition
Dublin losing out on jobs
"Glaring double standard in job creation" - Seán Crowe
BY ROBBIE SMYTH
Another 251 jobs in Dublin and Antrim fall victim to the mantras of restructuring and "operational efficiency "and the question must be, are we learning anything?
The job losses announced last Tuesday, 20 May, to a shocked workforce at Gallaher's cigarette plants in Tallaght and Lisnafillan, were implemented without worker consultation in the same week that the IDA announced a bizarre switch in job creation tactics and the Minister for Enterprise announced a new round of studies, reports and evaluation of 26-County job creation policies.
Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe criticised not just the Gallaher's closure but the floundering industrial development policies being implemented by the coalition and the development agencies.
The Dublin South West Dáil Deputy urged the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to ensure that the appropriate agencies respond with the immediacy that "this tragic news demands".
Crowe said: "When you add these 121 jobless people from Gallaher's to the 1,194 people from across Dublin who lost their jobs in the last month, it makes for a very depressing outlook. Tallaght now ranks as the fourth highest area of unemployment in Dublin - and even more worrying - Dublin has the second highest unemployment growth rate in the state, with over 5,400 jobs lost in the last 12 months. This trend must be reversed at all costs.
Calling for new investment into "sustainable industry in the areas that need it most", Crowe said: "Tallaght is one such area and I am calling on the Tánaiste directly to target this area for investment and inward development."
SIPTU representative Anne Speed said the Gallaher workers were "very aggrieved" that they had not been consulted on the job cuts as required under partnership agreements.
Speed said: "We are not taking this as a foregone conclusion, and we are not going to be bounced into severance talks."
Another 130 Gallaher jobs are to go at Lisnafillan, County Antrim, which employs 850. Profits at Gallaher rose 15% to §529 million last year.
However, there are doubts as to whether the government or its development agencies are actually competent to be imaginative and dynamic about job creation. Take, for example, last week's announcement by the IDA of "a change in focus".
Their new master plan is to ask international companies in Ireland to expand their activities here, such as research and development and high tech manufacturing or to have regional offices based in Ireland.
This is strange, as this is much of the same work that Enterprise Ireland is supposed to with indigenous business, but with considerably less money than the IDA has to spend!
Seán Crowe told An Phoblacht that "there is a glaring double standard in job creation strategies. The Gallaher closure highlights it yet again. How many more jobs have to be lost before the government wakes up".
Mater Hospital jobs cuts
Commenting on news that the Mater Hospital in Dublin is to cut 163 staff posts Sinn Féin Dáil Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin challenged the Taoiseach to act to prevent what he described as the collapse of hospital services.
"The Taoiseach himself once worked in the Mater Hospital and he and his Health Minister have repeatedly boasted of its achievements," said Ó Caoláin. "Yet today we learn that 163 posts are to be axed. This is a further body blow to our hospital services and comes after the closure of 250 beds in the five Dublin teaching hospitals. The Taoiseach and the Minister must act now to prevent a collapse of hospital services."