JOB losses at Novartis’ Ringaskiddy plant will be a "huge blow" to families in the wider are of Passage West, Monkstown, Rochestown and Carrigaline with many households having more than one family member employed at the plant.
Pauline O’Mahony, a cleaner at the plant for 13 years from Carrigaline, said this morning’s announcement by the company to cut staff at one of its production buildings - resulting in the potential loss of up to 320 jobs by 2022 - is still mired in uncertainty.
“There really are no answers at the moment,” said Ms O’Mahony.
“We just have to wait and see. I have been here for 13 years working as a cleaner. I have a lot of friends working here. I’m too old to start in another factory. We knew there was something coming up.
"We were waiting on a new contract in December and we thought that’s what [the announcement] was, that maybe we had a new employer,” Ms O’Mahony added.
Fears have been expressed that many middle-aged workers at the plant will find it difficult to gain new employment in the area but Braham Brennan, chairman of the Ringaskiddy and District Residents’ Association, said he is hopeful the Government and the Foreign Direct Investment State agency IDA Ireland will intervene to create new jobs and protect the remaining positions.
Mr Brennan also pointed out that many families had both parents and children working at the plant.
“It’s very distressing for the area, simply because it is one of the good employers in the area," he said. "There is a lot of local people that have worked there throughout the years and are still working there. From that point alone, it’s a blow to the area.
“Many years ago, a lot of houses in Ringaskiddy were knocked and those families moved to Monkstown, Carrigaline, Rochestown and Passage West. A lot of those people’s children are now working there.
“This will have a huge local effect. I would be hoping the Government and the IDA would put their heads together and do something to try and save the jobs and protect the other jobs at the plant. It needs to be done right away, rather than just talking about it.
“There is a lot of similiar industries around but the problem is that many people are now middle-aged. You’d be hopeful people that people in their 50s might be able to get other jobs in the area.”
Mr Brennan added that while rumours have been circulating about the company's restructuring plans, the news still comes as a shock.
“There had been rumblings that a lot of contracts were ending and they might not be renewed.
“The Tánaiste is living nearby in Carrigaline and it’s in his back garden. I would like to see him get involved. Maybe other jobs can be created. The IDA is looking at other sites in the area. Something needs to be sorted out fast,” Mr Brennan added.
One worker at the plant who did not want to be named said there is scant hope among the workforce that jobs may be saved.
"Things could change if corporate policy does but we are not holding out much hope. They have invested heavily here but it seems the company can maybe operate more cheaply elsewhere. I have been here for nearly 20 years. A lot of people working here would be middle-aged and you'd wonder where they go from here."